Being healthy is an essential aspiration that most humans strive for. Health is a state of complete social, mental, and physical well-being that individuals are able to identify to satisfy their needs in coping with their environment. A person’s health affects every aspect of a person’s life so it is no wonder that school’s systems are changing to implement, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education into their daily curriculum. PDHPE is “is an integrated area of study that provides for the intellectual, social, emotional, physical and spiritual development of students” (Board of Studies NSW 6) A controversial topic that is not readily taught in all stages of PDHPE is Alcohol. Alcohol is an enticing and dangerous if abused substance that can lead to serious situations and health problems to everyone. If children and teens were taught on its negative effects than they could avoid serious problems in relation to drinking alcohol. The purpose of this essay is to discuss alcohol and its factors, while also discussing why it is a challenge, how alcohol being taught in the PDHPE curriculum can address the problems that stem from the results of alcohol throughout the community, and in the classroom.
Alcohol is considered one of the most abused substances behind tobacco. In every society Alcohol has dual purposes where people drink for enjoyment, relaxation, and recreational means with friends, families, etc. These means of drinking are usually unmet with few adverse effects. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey, indicated that about 90 percent of Australians have tried alcohol once in their life, and that over 80 percent have had a drink within the year. Broken down around 8 percent of Australians drink daily and about 40 percent drink weekly (NHRMC, 2011). However there are the other sides of drinking alcohol where it can have dire consequences. According to NHMRC, “alcohol is responsible for a considerable burden of death, disease and injury” (NHMRC) Alcohol is big problem within Australia and other countries where alcohol can cause significant hardship that affects not only families, but bystanders and the community. Second only to tobacco is the leading cause of drug-related harm in Australia. Alcohol is considered wines, beers, and liquors. Available to adults 18 and older, and in stores throughout the country. The alcohol level in beer is usually 5 percent or more, wine is around 12 to 15 percent, and spirits or liquor contains about 45 percent alcohol. (NLM, 2012) The effects of alcohol start when a person drinks alcohol, the alcohol is then absorbed in the stomach and enters the bloodstream, which goes to all the tissues. Within each individuals bodies the type of food contained in the stomach can affect how quickly the alcohol is absorbed. The types of alcohol drinks can get into bloodstreams faster where the effects of alcohol can have faster effects. When people consume alcohol it can affect the heart rate, breathing rate, and brain and motor functions. The effects of alcohol can be felt anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes, and it can stay in the bloodstream until the liver breaks it down. The reason that people get drunker, is when people drink alcohol faster than the liver can break it down.
The misuse of alcohol is leads to problems that include, injury resulting from road crashes and other accidents, and in social problems such as violence, family breakdown and child abuse and neglect (NHMRC, 2007). In the last few decades alcohol has come more readily available in stores and supermarkets. The problem with more availability of alcohol means that teens are more susceptible to getting ahold of alcohol. Research has found that secondary school students had a higher experience with alcohol as age increased. White and Hayman (2004) found that, “by the age of 14, around 90 per cent of students had tried alcohol, and at the age of 17, around 70 per cent of students had consumed alcohol in the month before the survey (White and Hayman 2004). Alcohol affects the body in harmful ways which include acting as a depressant to the central nervous system, loss of inhibitions, with increased levels of alcohol intake the effects are worse. These affects include, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of balance, unconsciousness, and inhibition of normal breathing which could be fatal. The long term effects of alcohol consumption can affect the cardiovascular system, lead to cancer, diabetes, malnutrition, obesity, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, liver disease, mental health conditions, addiction, increased risk of dementia, and self-harm. (Commonwealth of Australia 2001)
Alcohol is a problem that is increasing among underage children. According to research, risks, injuries, accidents, and death related to alcohol increases under the age of 18. It is challenging to teach in classrooms because of the complex problem of trying to persuade students to not indulge in a popular pastime. Alcohol is taught at different levels in primary and secondary schools. Other challenges include lack of funding for drug education forums that makes it difficult for knowing what works and what doesn’t work. Without community input or knowing the right guidelines to keep in step to it can prove to be challenge when taught in PDHPE curriculum.
The foundation of PDHPE is to promote all the aspects of personal wellbeing that include the physical, social, mental, and spiritual health. Teaching alcohol as part of their curriculum is important in knowing how drug use and alcohol can cause harm to the body and to the community. Within the curriculum, teachers use designs, and produces multimedia presentation detailing group findings about a health issue i.e., effects of alcohol. (Board of Studies NSW 2013) In order to address the growing concern in underage drinking, and within the society is to teach the negative effects of alcohol consumption at a younger age. The curriculum now is that Kindergarten to Year 6 (Primary School) students are taught about the effects of alcohol on the body. When children move up to Secondary School they are taught about the physical, legal, and social consequences of drug and alcohol misuse. According to Commonwealth of Australia, “the misuse of alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable death in Australia” (Commonwealth of Australia 2001. Over the last decade it has been more than 3500 Australian deaths that are preventable related to injury and diseases that were caused by high risk drinking. If children are educated at a younger age it helps to decrease the percentage of alcohols who are not only injured because of alcohol consumption, but also decreased others from getting injured because of car accidents, or other accidents associated with drinking. Australia has implemented multiple guidelines because of the persistent problems that are caused by high alcohol consumption.
As the teacher, the responsibility is to educate students in ways that make them more knowledgeable and better decision makers. In the PDHPE is essential to involve the parent, especially when teaching about alcohol in primary schools. The parents play a pertinent role in educating their children about alcohol and drugs. In secondary school, parent involvement is still important, however, children are older so they need have a deeper discussion on why alcohol consumption in kids under the age of 18 are at a higher risks than adults who are legal. As a teacher it is important to understand that teens will, “vary in their levels of maturity and in their ability to face challenges of this time of life, such as exam pressures, learning to drive, decisions about the future and the pressure to use alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs. (NSW 2013) Teachers have to develop a method of teaching that is adaptable to each student’s unique personality and level of cognizance in understanding the risks of underage drinking, and high alcohol consumption. Programs such as Crossroads help to serve the needs of senior students. It tackles the social problems such as alcohol consumption while paying attention to the outside pressures of the community. In order programs, teaching by showing visual aids such as pictures of car wrecks, pictures of the effects on the body, and how damaging it is to a body’s function once high levels of alcohol are absorbed in the body. As noted earlier, as an aide apart of PDHPE curriculum is to discuss alcohol by health promotion strategies, government intervention, give case studies, and provide strategies that promote health and wise decision making in children.
In exploring the topic of alcohol and consumption in underage drinking there are a number of resources available which come from the government itself, Australian Government of Health and Ageing, the National Health and Medical Research Council (MHMRC), and the Commonwealth of Australia provide useful information on up to date information on alcohol statistics, and programs that target underage drinking, and laws pertaining to alcohol. Other sources include PDHPE’s curriculum from NSW Board Studies, Personal Development Health and Physical Education Modules Document. Syllabus K-6, articles from NSW site on Alcohol, Pangrazzi’s book, Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children, and White and Hayman, “Australian secondary students' use of alcohol in 2002” Other sources are on later additions to the PDHPE syllabuses, and updated information on alcohol consumption.
In conclusion, there are several challenges to teaching controversial topics to students in the classroom. Alcohol is a major consumption within the country. Millions have drunk before in their lifetime and many continue to drink on a monthly or daily basis. However, alcohol is behind the leading causes of deaths in Australia. It is an over abused substance that when used responsibly can be used for enjoyment. When it is not used properly it can lead to high risks decisions that contribute to preventable alcohol related deaths. When teaching it in the classroom it is essential that students realize their decisions on the society and community. They affect the community when they make bad decisions. Teachers that follow the PDHPE’s curriculum is that can be taught in ways in which the student is better educated and it can help to improve the safety of themselves and others around them.
Alcohol in Australia: Issues and Strategies. (2001). Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/alc-strategy/$FILE/alcohol_strategy_back.pdf
Alcohol and health in Australia. (2011) National Health and Medical Research Council. Retrieved from http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/your-health/alcohol-guidelines/alcohol-and-health-australia
Personal Development Health and Physical Education Support Document. Syllabus K-6. (2009). NSW Board of Studies. Retrieved from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/pdf_doc/pdhpe-st6-syl-from2010.pdf
Personal Development Health and Physical Education Support Document. Syllabus K-6 (2013). NSW Board of Studies. .Retrieved from http://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/files/pdhpe/k6_pdhpe_syl.pdf
Crossroads: A Personal Development Health and Physical Education Couse. Stage 6. (1999). NSW Board of Studies. Retrieved from. http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/secondary/pdhpe/crossroads/assets/crossroads_syllabus_pdf.pdf
White V, Hayman J. (2004). Australian secondary students' use of alcohol in 2002. National Drug Strategy Monograph Series No. 55.