Dutch schools are choosing alcohol-free school parties more often

27 September 2011

Research: From the students who drink at ‘wet’ school parties, 43% drink 5 or more glasses.

Research by the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) shows that in 2011 in a small majority (56%) of secondary schools that alcohol was being served during parties. In 2009 the percentage was 63% of the examined schools and in 2007 at 76%. In other words: schools are organising more often alcohol-free school parties. In addition it appears from research that at 1 in 3 of the school parties where alcohol is being served, students under 16 years drink alcohol. In these ‘wet’ schools, two thirds (68%) of all visitors drink alcohol and.of this group 43% will drink 5 glasses or more at a school party.

Increasing number of schools alcohol-free
The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy undertook research in 2005, 2009 and 2011 among secondary schools, the aim of which included gaining an impression of the results of the STAP-project ‘The Alcohol-free School’.
From the research undertaken in 2011 it appears that at 44% of the investigated schools the school parties were completely alcohol-free (Verhoef, 2011). In 2009 this was the case in 37% of the schools (de Bos, 2009) and in 2005 in 24% of the schools (Mulder, 2005). The investigation carried out in 2011 was with 729 pupils of 50 schools from 25 different cities.

Pupils under 16 drink alcohol at school parties
Schools that serve alcohol at school parties, are confronted with a considerable number of students younger than 16, who despite the laid down rules, drink alcohol at school parties. In 2011 it involved 34% of the students below 16 , in 2009 it involved 33% and in 2005 51%. Students of 16 years and older are also drinking during co-called ‘wet’ school parties: 86% in 2009 and 71% in 2005.

Binge drinking is no exception at school parties
Binge drinking is a harmful way of alcohol-use, defined by drinking of 5 or more drinks in a short time. In 2011, 43% in total of the students who used alcohol at a school party drank 5 or more glasses and 15% of the drinkers consumed more than 10 glasses at a party.
Inge Verhoef, project coordinator Alcohol-free School of STAP: “Many thousands of Dutch pupils leave parties each year more or less drunk, parties that were organized with the responsibility of the school. Some pupils indicate that they continue feasting and drinking until 4 o’clock in the morning.

Preventing drinking-in with school with alcohol-testers
Youngsters regularly drink alcohol before they go to a party. This phenomenon also often happens at school parties: 37% of the youngsters indicated that they sometimes drink preceding a school party. This percentage has not decreased since 2005. More schools make use of alcohol-testing to investigate objectively the blood alcohol concentration of students who attend parties. In 2011 this happened at 8 of the 47 schools and in 2009 at 4 of the 43 schools.

School parties often organize the catering
A considerable number (38%) of the school parties do not take place at the school itself. By organizing the school parties at external locations, mostly the catering, the school itself has less control on the implementation of the regulations. Most of the schools (71%) organize separate parties for the pupils of the junior and the upper high school.

Much alcohol is consumed during study weeks
Many students (66%) drink alcohol during study weeks and/or camping weeks that are organized by the school. The rule for alcohol-use during the study weeks is stricter than the reality that the alcohol use leads to expect. At most schools (75%) alcohol is formally not permitted during study- and/or camping weeks.

Benchmark for alcohol-free schools
STAP carries on behalf of the municipalities and financed by a number of funds, the ‘The Alcohol-free School’ project. The objective is that more schools will choose for a completely alcohol-free policy: no alcohol at parties and study weeks, for students as well as for teachers. Schools that are completely alcohol-free receive the benchmark ‘Alcohol-free School’(

The report ‘Drinking at school’ (2011) is available on the website

-Bos V. de, Drinken op school. Utrecht, STAP, 2009
-Dorsselaer S. van et al., HBSC 2009. Gezondheid, welzijn en opvoeding van jongeren in Nederland. Utrecht, Trimbos-instituut, 2010.
-Monshouwer, K., Verdurmen, J., Dorsselaer, s., Smit, E., Gorter, A.,& Vollebergh, W. Jeugd en riskant gedrag 2007. Utrecht, Trimbos-instituut, 2008.
-Mulder, J., Drinken op school. Utrecht, STAP, 2005.
-Verhoef, I., Drinken op school. Utrecht, STAP, 2011.

For more information:
Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP)
Mr Ir W.E. van Dalen, director
T 030-6565041 / 06-53295544


Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP
P.O. Box 9769
3506 GT Utrecht
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30-6565041
F: +31 (0)30-6565043