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Groundbreaking initiative helps deal with Scotland’s notorious drink culture

Posted: 1st August 2016


A groundbreaking initiative involving a Queen Margaret University and six Edinburgh secondary schools could transform Scotland’s drinking culture.

A new report, which outlines the success of the AlcoLoLs project, demonstrates how the initiative is helping to change young people’s attitudes to the country’s notorious teenage drinking culture.

A team of academics from Queen Margaret University’s Centre for Dialogue has published the report which shows the impact the project is having in helping some 3,000 Edinburgh teenagers make safer decisions about alcohol and drinking. The intervention, first conceived with pupils from Portobello High School in 2012, who called themselves ‘The AlcoLOLs’, has since been developed with pupils from another five Edinburgh high schools.

The  Queen Margaret University (QMU) research team have used an approach which uses peer to peer ‘dialogue’ to enable teenagers to talk together in school, without adults in the room. The initiative helps to break down barriers by creating opportunities for students to be more truthful in their communication.

Researchers Emma Wood and Magda Pieczka from the QMU’s Centre for Dialogue teach groups of teenagers how to recognise potential problems by looking at the way they communicate about alcohol and the Scottish drinking culture.  They then create a ‘safe space’ for the teenagers, where they can talk openly without fear of being judged or laughed at, and can hear a whole range of views and opinions from each other and from experts in the field.  The teenagers then go on to duplicate this experience for their peers at school, aiming to include every S2 and S4 pupil in two dialogue groups each year which they facilitate without adult intervention.

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