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Alcohol binge drinking

Alcohol & Binge Drinking Nightlife

Alcohol binge drinking nightlife in bars, nightclubs and wider nightlife environments. These are frequently the scenes of violence between young people. Such youth violence is often related to the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol use is a key risk factor for both victims and perpetrators of youth violence. Yet also a major part of nightlife culture in many countries.

Youth violence

Youth violence in nightlife can have devastating impacts on the health of young people. Also this places huge burdens on wider society. The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) Working Group on Youth Violence, Alcohol and Nightlife has been set up to help share information. Plus intelligence internationally on preventing alcohol-related youth violence in nightlife settings.

This fact sheet provides an overview of youth violence, alcohol and nightlife, including: the extent of the problem. Plus the risk factors for victims and perpetrators. The impacts and prevention measures, the extent of alcohol-related youth violence in nightlife settings.

The links between youth violence and alcohol are well documented (Box 1). Yet uniform data on alcohol-related youth violence in nightlife are not available at an international level. Nevertheless, research and surveys conducted in a number of countries do provide some insight. Into levels of alcohol-related youth violence in nightlife settings. 

For example:

  • In a community sample of 18 to 30 year olds in the US, almost 25% of men and 12% of women had experienced violence. Or aggression in or around a licensed bar during the previous year (1).
  • Eighty percent of 15 to 29 year old assault patients presenting at a UK Accident and Emergency department on weekend nights. Had been drinking; 44% had been assaulted inside a pub or nightclub and 33% in the street (2).
  • Research found one in twenty young pub-goers in Amsterdam (Netherlands) had been involved in a fight. This while on a night out during the previous year (3).
  • In Australia, research shows a third of all alcohol-related violence occurs in bars and nightclubs. Whilst those aged 20 to 24 years are three times more likely than all other age groups to have been victimised.

Risk factors

A range of factors have been found to increase young people’s risks of becoming both victims and perpetrators of alcohol-related youth violence. These include individual and relationship factors such as being male, having a low educational attainment, being involved in other forms of anti-social behaviour and having delinquent peers.

Alcohol consumption is itself a risk factor for youth violence, and individuals who begin drinking at an early age, drink frequently and drink in large quantities are at increased risk of being both victims and perpetrators. Community or situational factors such as drinking venues that are poorly maintained and uncomfortable (e.g. crowded, noisy, have poor ventilation, unclean, smoky) and that are permissive towards anti-social behaviour (e.g. overt sexual behaviour) have been found to be key risk factors (5-9).

Furthermore, research shows high levels of sexual competition between patrons in nightlife increases the risk of sexual violence (10), whilst high levels of alcohol consumption put women in particular at increased risk of sexual violence (11).

Sexual violence

Alcohol-related sexual violence is more likely to occur in bars and parties than at the perpetrators’ or victims’ homes (12). In the wider nightlife environment, outlet density, poor availability of public transport and people hanging around after closing time have also been identified as factors that increase the potential for violence (9,13,14), while areas where crowds gather (e.g. taxi ranks, fast food venues) are often the scenes of violent incidents (15). In particular, weekend evenings (between 8pm and 4am) have been shown to be key times for violence among young people.

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Youth and Alcohol Drink Smart Program introduction and education