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Youth Stats September 1, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Young people.
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The BBC has got an interesting report by the OECD which finds that 15 year old girls in the UK are more likely to get drunk than in any other developed country and more so than 15 year old lads in the UK. This makes for a good shock headline for the article, and whilst it is a serious issue that youth workers need to be aware of, right at the end however are a couple of sentences to celebrate some of the good work going on here in the UK.

It states that ‘children in the UK enjoy a high quality of school life and enjoy school much more than many of their international counterparts. Also bullying is less frequent and teenage suicides are less common in the UK than in most other industrialised countries’.

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1. Ruth Thomas - September 1, 2009

It’s a slightly odd report in that it depends on a personal judgment: “Have you been drunk?” when it isn’t particularly clear what constitutes “drunk” (or whether the words used in different languages would convey the same sense to teenage speakers of those languages).

But it does raise a query over the very Puritan focus of the government and media in the UK which essentially says that under 18s should never touch a drop of the hard stuff. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard it said or implied that underage drinking is illegal! As the report says, “In France or Italy, youngsters might try drinks in a family environment – where they are less likely to get drunk.” How many parents in the UK fear that they’d be imprisoned for introducing their kids to alcohol in a controlled manner?

2. Sarah B - September 9, 2009

I wonder what the law actually says? I seem to recall that even my (non Chrisitan but quite Puritanical) parents allowed my brother, sister and I to drink very small glasses of very dilute alcohol at family gatherings (weddings, Christenings). We also had wine (again small glasses once we were teenagers) every year at Christmas. If we spent Christmas with my grandparents (Staunch non-Conformists), once we were over 10 we were allowed a very small aperitif (normally sherry in a shot glass) before Christmas dinner and/or an alcoholic ‘snowball’ (though ours was mainly lemonade rather than advocaat) on Christmas evening. I suspect this is where the seeds of my sister and I not liking the taste of alcohol developed. My brother didn’t have the same reaction, but having got very drunk when he was 17 and being made to drink a glass of salt water to make him vomit up any unabsorbed alcohol by our mum, I don’t think he has ever got that drunk ever again (30 years later).

One of my biochemistry lecturers saw it as his clear duty to help his daughters learn how to drink responsibly before they left home at 18, so that no one would be able to ‘get them drunk and take advantage of them’!

At an associates day yesterday, we were told the story of a 31 year old (who wasn’t carrying her driving license or passport) being refused service when she tried to buy a bottle of wine in Sctland (which has a ‘check they are over 25 policy’). Utter madness. Especially as the father of a friend then went in and bought it for her anyway!


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