As students head back to university and the newbies arrive, there will be only one thing on their minds, and it won’t be their first lecture on Monday morning!

Freshers’ Week will see almost half a million new students get involved in all the uni antics and at the top of their agenda will be drinking and partying the night away.

Eager to begin their student life journey, for some, the experience may unexpectedly turn dark and uninviting.

Worryingly, one in three girls will receive unwanted and inappropriate physical attention or groping during their time at university.

A quarter of young women admit to ‘putting up with’ inappropriate sexual comments or abuse on a drunken night, leaving women feeling disgusted (68%), angry (56%) and scared (39%).

In light of these findings, the charity Drinkaware, warn that being drunk is not an excuse for sexually harassing or assaulting other people, despite academics having said that excessive consumption of alcohol has turned Britain’s pubs and clubs into a ‘permissive social arena’.

Drinkaware have launched ‘Drunken nights out: motivations, norms and rituals in the night time economy’, an independent review of binge drinking. It aims to highlight that criminal behaviour should not be tolerated; if it’s not acceptable sober, it’s not acceptable drunk.

Students are not the only people who are affected, as nearly a third of young women aged 18-24 said they received inappropriate or unwanted physical attention or touching on a drunken night out. Very few of those who have experienced this said they were surprised when it happened to them. 

Young men aren’t exempt either. 11% said they had to deal with inappropriate or unwanted physical attention or touching and 8% received inappropriate sexual comments or abuse.

The independent review commissioned by Drinkaware found the problem doesn’t end with molestation and groping.  More than 40% of people who have experienced sexual assault believed their assailant to be drunk.

A night out for 82% of 18-24 year olds admit that drink will ‘always’ or ‘almost always’ drink alcohol when they go out. 35% said when they go out, those occasions are ‘always’ or ‘most often’ drunken nights out.

Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive at alcohol education charity Drinkaware said: “Young people should be able to enjoy a night out without fear of intimidating behaviour, whether physical or verbal. Being drunk isn’t an excuse for sexually harassing or assaulting other people.

“The vast majority of young adults we spoke to agree that if a behaviour is unacceptable when you are sober, it’s unacceptable when you are drunk*. Now is the time for everyone to take a stand to stop this.”

Adrian Lee, Chief Constable, Northamptonshire Police and national policing lead on alcohol harm for the Association of Chief Police Officers added: “The consequences of excessive drinking are witnessed across the country in the hospitals and police stations of our towns and cities every week.  Drunken Nights Out is a significant piece of research that identifies for the first time the routines and rituals of young people as they enjoy a weekend of socialising and partying.  Pre-drinking plays a significant part of these rituals and we know that those who pre-drink are two and a half times more likely to be involved in violence and four times more likely to consume over 20 units in a night.  

“This research provides real insight into pre-loading and binge drinking, providing real opportunity for police and partners to develop effective ways to challenge and influence irresponsible drinking to help keep people safe and healthy. I welcome this research and I am grateful to Simon Christmas for his work and the support provided by Drinkaware.”

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If you have experienced or have witnessed sexual harassment for yourself- get in touch and let us know what action you, or others took.


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