Tuesday, 1 November 2011

They'll drink to that - children as young as twelve drinking too much?

This week a survey was published which revealed that children as young as twelve are allegedly drinking as many as nineteen glasses of wine a week.  Furthermore, it revealed that a quarter of children are regularly getting drunk by the age of fourteen. 

I think it’s been common knowledge for some time that young children do often gain access to alcohol and that some will do so to excess.  And in truth this is not a new phenomenon, as teenagers have been experimenting with alcohol for decades. 

However, while there will of course be children who have used alcohol to this degree, I can’t help wondering how much of this is just bravado on the part of those answering these surveys.  

If the results of this survey are to be taken at face value, then we have to believe that Britain has a serious alcohol problem among our teens.  What we also have to consider is that somewhere, adults are enabling this behaviour by either purchasing alcohol for these young teens or allowing them to purchase it.  And then what of the parents?  Twelve is still very young – they are only just in secondary school and for most will only just be given some freedom to venture out on their own.  Even at fourteen one surely wouldn’t imagine that they have enough freedom to be going out and getting drunk once a week.  If at fourteen 25% of children get drunk once a week, then should we not consider that 25% of parents are failing?  After all how could you not notice your child getting drunk that regularly?

While of course the prominence of alcohol among teenagers should not be underestimated, I think it is equally important that we not necessarily blow these findings out of proportion, and that we should allow some leeway for the fact that a large proportion of children, who are impressionable and easily led after all, will give the answers that make them look most favourable in front of their peers, and that if drinking nineteen glasses of wine or getting drunk once a week is seen as cool, then they will most probably want to be seen as conforming to that, even if they would be unlikely to actually do it.

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