Over three-quarters of young people in the Solomon Islands reported that their use of alcohol had caused relationship or social problems in the previous year, and around 60 percent of both males and females agreed “there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten”, according to a new joint report by Save the Children and the Burnet Institute.

The startling findings are part of a first-of-its-kind study, funded by the Australian Government, investigating alcohol and other substance use, and related harms, in the Pacific nation. The research comprised an expansive survey of 400 young people aged 15 to 24 from four different provinces of the Solomon Islands, as well as in-depth focus group sessions with young people and service providers.

Among the key findings:

- 60 per cent of males and 59 percent of females agreed “there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten”.

- 82 per cent of those who reported having six or more sexual partners in the previous year said they’d never or rarely used a condom.

- Almost two-thirds reported consuming alcohol in the previous four weeks, while 58 per cent of drinkers said they’d become violent or aggressive during a drinking session in the past 12 months.

- Respondents who drank store-bought alcohol reported drinking a median of 12 cans of store-bought beer in a typical session.

- 88 per cent of respondents admitted using betel nut in the previous four weeks.

“This report paints a concerning picture about gender-based violence and substance use among youth, which may be indicative of larger issues in the wider community. It highlights the importance of intervening early with targeted education programs to prevent violence and harmful practices,” Save the Children’s Solomon Islands Country Director Shiv Nair said.

“The point of this study is not to criticise young people, but to find ways to reduce risky and often violent behavior, which can have a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing, and that of those around them.

“The data collected is really helpful for organisations like Save the Children who are working to address many of the issues identified. In particular, it shows the need for greater effort in creating education and employment opportunities for young people. It also highlights how a failure to address these social and public health challenges may impede economic development region.”

Save the Children is also calling for the development of national guidelines for alcohol consumption, enhanced education of staff at relevant services and organisations, and increased investment in sexual health education and condom provision.

“In order to really create change, many of these issues need to be addressed on a range of levels – from a household and community level to provincial and federal governments, as well as across the Pacific,” Mr Nair said.

“If we can influence young people at a time when they are most impressionable, we can have a really positive impact on their long term futures and communities across the Solomon Islands.”

Press Release: Save the Children