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To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. E. E. Cummings

Content matters


The Content matters campaign has been designed to bring attention to the content instead of the cover. It was designed for young people to find their own reasons for what they are doing instead of just following the expectations and trends coming from the surrounding. The unreflected social pressure to drink alcohol is very difficult to resist. Young people consume alcohol to fill in blank spaces in their life, to cover the problems they face in everyday life and to be able to overcome social challenges they feel every day. Our current alcohol culture offers us an "omnipotent-all-the-problemssolution" wrapped in a glamorous cover. You

will be attractive, you will gain respect, you will perform better and you will enjoy life. When the cover is removed, there is a hole and at its bottom suffering in a smaller or greater extent. Instead of teaching young people to solve their problems in a constructive way, we let them make the same mistake again and again, from generation to generation - to try to escape from the problem, to try to hide the problem, to try to forget the problem. We want young people to be able to face difficulties that are part of our lives. We want to empower young people to reach for their potential and to go the way they choose themselves.

d n a l o o c Be ! y a w n w o r u o y go


What is under the cover?

You(th) are more than 1/3


More than half the world's population is below the age of 25. 1,7 billion people are between 10 and 24 years old. Today's population of young people is the largest the world has ever known. Young people are often at the leading edge of social change. What does that mean? That young people initiate changes in the world. So what kind of world do YOU want? We are asking because it's up to YOU how the world will be like.

Society’s getting youth friendly. Are you society friendly?

Youth participation: Rights and responsibilities

Awareness: Your power of choice

"Europe's future increasingly depends on its ability to foster societies that are child and youth friendly," said JĂĄn Figel', commissioner in charge of Youth, and the Communication (2005). Tools for young people are to be provided and the gates for youth participation are opening. Do you want to do something about it? Do you want to enter?

Participation means to be involved, to have a task and to share and take over responsibility. It means to have access and to be included. We have the right to be active, the right to be supported, the right to fight democratically for our interests and the right to build a better society. We have rights. It's up to us whether we use them or not.

Living in a society means being part of that society and that means each individual part interacts with the world around him/her and the people in it. It is a plain and commonly known truth that everything we do has a consequence. If that be so, everything we do becomes a statement of what we want; everything we do or don't do becomes a message of the values we support or don't support.


Content matters

Content matters The world turns around our actions or the lack of our actions much simpler. So where can YOU start? The best start is to be aware of what is going on in the world, what our daily choices are and what the impact of our choices is. And then start to act! Switch off the light when you do not need it to save some energy; save water when brushing your teeth - to take care of our planet; do not give alcoholic drinks as gifts - to show solidarity with those whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol consumption; stand up for your bullied classmate. Your own behaviour is a clear demonstration of your awareness.

Do you feel that there is too much going on around? Too much to consider? Do you wonder where to start? Why not to start from "A" as "A"lcohol consumption? Did you know that: + 195 000 people in the EU die every year because of alcohol consumption; + 9 000 000 children in the EU are growing up with one or both parents addicted to alcohol; + more than 60% of all violent acts are connected to drinking;

+ every year the EU pays 125 000 000 000 Euro for direct harm caused by alcohol (if we include costs of indirect harm the sum increases to 270 000 000 000 Euro); + in year 2000, alcohol was a number one killer of young men in Europe; + alcohol is the cause of more than 60 diseases and illnesses? These are the facts we rarely talk about and we rarely associate with drinking. What do people usually connect to the word alcohol? We wanted to know so we started asking...



Youth participation in society can have many forms and levels. The most basic participation puts YOU into the focus, the centre of action and it holds YOU responsible. When talking about youth participation, we can of course talk about young people represented in politics, young people having the right to express their opinions and to have their ideas considered and implemented. We can also mention young people involved in different movements and organisations. Those are all great examples of youth participation, but the first steps start

Let's start from the beginning

Image: Fun, friends, party. Reality: Violence, unemployment, accidents!

What are your 5 words?


We anonymously asked a hundred young people of the age between 15 and 30 years what they associate with the word "alcohol" and the answers were as follows: The 5 most common answers that came to their minds first were: party, beer, women, vomiting, hangover This is an average meaning of alcohol for a young person. Without any doubt, the most popular connection was "party", followed by the connections like "good mood, fun, women, and sex". The words with negative connotations usually came as last of the answers. Many times one of the first connections was the word "friends". Most of the answers proved that alcohol in

young people's minds is connected to good time and friends: Party, friends, fun, birthday, and hangover. Often the negative and positive feelings and memories are mixed in the responses we got. There were very few answers, which would include only negative or only positive associations to alcohol. The word "alcohol" is linked to the totally opposite words from one end to another. Quantitatively the most used answer was "party" (45/100) and then very close to it, "hangover" (43/100). Positive experience such as: fun, good mood, talking appeared 36 times in 100 answers. Sex, women and girls ranked on 5th place with 27 answers out of 100.

+ in 43% of severe physical abuse by men alcohol is involved (by women it is 18%) + in 27% of moderate physical abuse by men alcohol is involved (by women it is 20%) + In 10% of verbal abuse by men alcohol is involved (by women it is 12%) + 71% of domestic violence in Ireland and Iceland was linked to alcohol usage + 10 000 people die every year in traffic accidents caused by alcohol usage + Direct costs of crime caused by alcohol yearly in the EU are 36 000 000 000 Euro

y t t e r p s i n u f e h T e r e h t d n a y l t s o c . w o n k o t e r o m is


Content matters

Content matters


Overall 1 million crimes have been reported per year in the world, 30% of them can be directly linked to alcohol consumption. Seems like a big number? But the numbers get worse, significantly worse among under aged people. For example in England and Wales, half of the criminal violence is alcohol-related and half of it is committed by youth aged 16-24. Alcohol has a considerably bigger importance in violent youth crimes than in general crimes. In Finland, 45% of all violent incidents reported by 12 -18 year olds involved drinking by the perpetrator and/or victim. In England and Wales,

Sexual assaults can be easily reduced by two thirds 18-24 year old males feeling very drunk at least monthly had two times higher possibility to be involved in a fight. Females had more than four times higher probability to be involved in a fight either as a victim or as a perpetrator. By reducing alcohol consumption among young people, we can reduce these staggering numbers easily even without a magic wand. 1 million crimes of which 30% are related to alcohol use makes approximately 300 000 alcohol related crimes. Imagine, that just by not drinking alcohol, 300 000 crimes could be prevented. That can't be that difficult.

For example, in UK approximately 230 women are raped in one day and same time only 800 rapists are convicted in rape crimes in one year. One third of the rapists are intoxicated and up to two third of all sexual assaults and rapes can be linked to alcohol. Another problem that arises together with sexual contacts under influence of alcohol is the risk of unprotected sex and the spreading of HIV. By avoiding alcohol consumption the number of sexual assaults would drop drastically.

Payday — mayday mayday There is a significant harm caused by alcohol in developing countries. Especially right after payday the number of the fights and rapes increase. In many developing countries domestic violence can be directly linked to alcohol consumption. It affects mostly young women, including under aged girls, who are beaten or abused by their husbands and other men. Paydays are not just days of celebration when kids get some extra candy. Paydays can turn into hell when the money from the salary is exchanged for bottles of alcohol.


We can easily avoid 300 000 crimes per year



Road 66

Pulling the trigger

Alcohol is the number one killer of young men in Europe In the group of males aged 15-29 years, one fourth of deaths are related to alcohol. In Eastern European countries the figure is one third. In total, during one year, 55 000 young people die from causes related to alcohol use in Europe and alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of death among young people. In every other case a murderer of that kind would be sitting in jail, but our alcohol culture is free out there.

Over 1000 young people under the age of 25 years are killed in road traffic crashes around the world every day. 50% per cent of all teen automobile crashes can be linked to alcohol. Drunken teenage drivers, carrying two or more passengers, are 34 times more at risk of a crash compared to drivers aged 30 years or more, with no alcohol, driving with one passenger. Also, in many countries, a high proportion of injured pedestrians who have consumed alcohol are in the 1619-year age group.

The average age for the first alcohol use is 13 years. By the time teenagers are allowed to drive a car, they have seen about 75 000 advertisements of alcohol. More than half of the students in grades 5 to 12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink. It is often not the question of choosing a certain brand, it is the attitude that advertising changes. Young people admit that viewing alcohol ads

gives them more positive feelings about drinking. A recent Dutch study also shows that those people who watched films accompanied by alcohol commercials were more likely to drink beer or wine during the movies than those who watched the film without the alcohol ads. Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity. It causes lots of harm and suffering. To promote alcohol is like promoting guns.


Content matters

Content matters Buy a gun! Have unprotected sex! Or...wait a moment, that's not what we want. Every fourth death among young men is caused by alcohol. It's difficult to describe someone's suffering in numbers, but we can express harm caused by alcohol in the amount of money we have to pay every year for what alcohol has destroyed. Crime, unemployment, accidents, death, police interventions, treatment - that all costs the society 125 000 000 000 Euro every year. How would an advertisement for the real effects of alcohol look like?

There are two billion dollars spent every year on all alcohol media advertising. According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission, alcohol advertisements have been placed on teens' and children's sized clothes, on internet sites aimed at youth, and alcohol ads are shown between TV shows and programmes for teenagers. Teenagers get inspired by the nice

feeling about alcohol shown in the ads served to them on a plate every day. Research shows that seeing alcohol images activates a craving in the brain and a need to drink when seeing an image. Advertising of alcohol has both immediate as well as long-term effects on the alcohol consumption of young people.



Have you seen an advertisement with people vomiting, fighting or feeling bad the next morning? Advertisements create the feeling that drinking alcohol is only an enjoyable and nice experience with no negative consequences. Why don't we see similar commercials of drugs or even better, a commercial with the message that having sex with a stranger without a condom is way more fun than using a condom? In EU, 195 000 people die every year because of alcohol.

To make people drink costs 2 billion dollars a year

Content matters


Alcohol increases the number of youth violent crimes, but it also makes youngsters more passive and less involved in society. For example in Ireland, 10% of 18-29 years old people were much more likely to report problems with work because of the negative impact of alcohol compared to 30-49 years old people who reported the problems only in 1%. The difference is alarming!

Home sweet home Alcohol consumption has a much broader effect than on just those who consume alcohol. Alcohol is not only a problem of a single individual who consumes it, but it causes problems for the surrounding as well. Sometimes the safest place, called home, turns into the most dangerous one. In general, 2/3 of all the reported victims of domestic violence have been attacked by a person who has drunk alcohol.

9 000 000 invisible children or An invisibility cloak is not always much of a help Approximately 6-12% of all children live in families adversely affected by alcohol. There are a lot of children, who can not avoid to see violence in their home or who suffer domestic violence. Domestic violence is the type of violence which is reported much less than it really occurs. The children growing up in such environment develop various behavioural problems,

varying from passivity to aggression. This behaviour is their way of coping with the discomfort created at home by the other family members. It's very difficult to identify these children and that's why they are also called Invisible children. The invisibility, unfortunately, prevents them from getting professional help and many of them end up with alcohol problems themselves.


Inclusion in a circle of friends vs. exclusion from the labour market

Content matters Are you sober? Be proud!


An individual will not change anything! That is not really true. All our actions have consequences and impact on other people. Social pressure can work in both directions - to make young people drink or to stop them from drinking. To make young people follow usual traditions or to make them reflect and make their own decisions. People who stand in for their values usually win respect. Each of us can make the harm caused by alcohol a little bit smaller. Each of us can help

to prevent crime and violence. Each of us can get involved. There are organizations you can join or you can act on your own by simple deeds. Here are just few examples of what you can do. Try something from the given list or figure out your own way to increase youth participation and to decrease violence. And do not forget‌it is cool to want to make the world a bit better. So if you care and you show it, be proud of it!

There are many groups where you can meet people who want to make a change. Show that you care about the topic, share your thoughts, discuss with others who care and plan the following activities together to improve the situation.

Spread the Content Matters stickers and publications Who would refuse a sticker? Ask for the Content Matters stickers from the Active office and spread them among the people you meet every day. By doing that, you will enable other people to get to know a bit more about current alcohol culture and its contribution to passivity, violence and crime. You can spread the word and make people think about Content Matters.


Join different social community groups such as "Stop Domestic Violence and Child Abuse"

Content matters


At you can find a lot of different activities and competitions to take part in. A lot of them are web based such as essay or photo competitions. Spend your time on creative things and invite other people to devote their energy into something useful and meaningful as well.

Become a volunteer for some organization

Join neighbourhood watch groups The idea is to reduce passivity, create a safer environment and to have community where people behave responsibly towards their neighbours. If one is a member of a watch group then in case of recognizing anything suspicious such as possible mistreatment of children, home violence and so on, there is an action taken. In usual cases, people wait for others who are around to

act and the precious time when we can actually help or prevent something is ticking away. By being a member of a watch group, you know how and when to react or you know that someone will react if something is happening to you. Watch groups are a usual tool to prevent violence in Estonia. If you do not have any group to join, you can consider starting one!

The opportunities are widely different in different countries, but the best advice would be: think about the areas you would like to improve, choose an organization that is involved in the areas and send an email asking about the volunteering opportunities. Even few hours in one week can make a difference just from your home and through internet. If you are interested in volunteering abroad, Active office will help you big time!


Participate or contribute competitions for other young people

Get in touch with the local young politicians to discuss your favorite topic


Every political party has usually a sub-organization for young people which is more tolerant about including different topics and also interested in the topics of youth inclusion. Since the youth branches are connected to their political party, they are able to have impact on the political program of their party.

Thank you ! Write postcards to politicians!



Everyone likes to get a postcard. Politicians for sure get lots of post every day, but will not ignore something creative. Is there anything your town should deal with? Are there too few alcohol free places for young people to socialize at on Friday evenings? It is your town's responsibility to provide safe and stimulating environments for youth. So send an "easy-to-notice" postcard to your local authorities and show your demands based on your rights!

Editor in chief: Madlena Tsvetkova

This booklet is published with the help of grants from Council of Europe and European Union


Maik D端nnbier, Janika Tamm, Kristina Sperkova


Martha Blecki, Olaf Jobmann, Rosi Siedelberg, Kristina Sperkova

Proofreading: Rosi Siedelberg Layout:

Olaf Jobmann


Content matters

Content matters The public realm is an important space for our democratic society. Currently it's majorly occupied by economic interests. This dominates and limits the thinking and participation of all citizens and especially young people. Return the public realm to the public! Alcohol is a paramount trigger of violence, harassment and abuse. As such it poses a constant threat to all citizens and especially young members of society. Everybody should feel free to go out at night, to take a walk in the park and to feel safe in football stadiums. We need safer environments without gunfire from alcohol bottles! In Europe youth is socialized into drinking

culture earlier than it is socialized into active democratic participation. For the sake of a better society, this must change! Our demands are: + to ban alcohol advertisements + to give voting rights to young people, not drinking rights + to exclude alcohol from the political arena + to create safer environments for young people + to return the public realm to the public + to ban the alcohol industry from the decision making process ‌ because in the end of the day, it is content that really matters!

Content matters Content matters

Content matters  

Booklet about young people's participation in society dominated by alcohol culture