|Posted on November 3, 2013 at 8:15 AM|
Written by Ollie Carr
Mid-teens, Saturday night, a house party: we’ve all been there. Unfortunately, often accompanied by our mother who, trapped in an eternal struggle with the Sat Nav, allows it to bear the brunt of her trust issues, whilst having “not a clue where Chesham Bois” is.
The sad, sunken clock on the dashboard ticks 9pm, and you’re officially late. Contrary to your mum’s frantic objections, it’s better to be late anyway.
Leaving the obscenities of the car behind you and ringing the front door bell with the perfect combination of anticipation and nonchalance, you find yourself met by a debilitated stranger, certainly not the owner of the house. Following a 40-second exchange of stale and awkward pleasantries, including a full-body scan for some form of alcoholic beverage, the door is opened wide and you’ve passed the entrance examination.
As you walk through the glamorous Dorito-strewn hall, hoping to find someone you might vaguely recognise, you are jolted to an abrupt stop. A severe invasion of your personal space ensues as yet another stranger gyrates violently around you. Avoiding this plight, you find yourself washed up in the living room, still caught in the delirious search for someone, anyone, you might know. A suitable distraction is served up as an echo of “N’awhh” reverberates around the room, while the distressed domestic cat is daringly tossed from guest to guest. The rude realisation descends; that cat will get more attention from the opposite sex tonight than you will. Cringing at the concept, you saunter your way out into the garden. Unfortunately, the night is colder than the glare you received upon arrival. Thank goodness mum made you wear that scarf, she’s always right about these kinds of things.
As you waft your way through the cigarette smoke, you begin faintly to recognise a pasty, blood-drained face in the corner of the garden, slumped across a flowerbed, retching. As you draw closer, closer and closer still, you begin to recognise that ghostly, vomit-dressed face. That face belongs to your best friend.
This is the cruel reality of underage drinking. Teens around the country are subjected to these circumstances week in, week out, yet it seems very few of us ask ourselves why we do it. Psychologists claim three main reasons: to “enhance” our personalities, to make ourselves feel older and because our friends do it. Regardless of the reason, one thing is certain, we do some incredibly moronic things when we drink, putting not only ourselves, but the people around us in danger.
According to the Alcohol Education Trust, a registered UK charity, one in every seven 15–16 year olds has been involved in an accident or been injured as a result of drinking alcohol, and this number is increasing year on year. The Trust also claims that if a teenager drinks regularly before they are 15, they are seven times more likely to be in a car crash because of drinking, and eleven times more likely to suffer unintentional injuries after drinking. This suggests that drinking from an early age could have serious, long-term ramifications for many years to come.
I’m not suggesting for one second that we should make laws on alcohol more stringent than they are already, for I believe this would also have an extremely negative impact on our generation. The more we deprive young people of alcohol, the more they will want it. One of the major reasons for underage drinking is the fact that it’s under age – we drink in order to feel older. It seems obvious that raising the drinking age will only fuel the desire for “maturity”, in practice encouraging more young people to drink.
I believe that underage drinking can be controlled using one simple method: education. This should be done not only through schools, but far more, in my opinion, through parents and family. Parents should be encouraged to make their children feel comfortable about drinking, but also about not drinking.
A parent may wish their child to learn to drink in a civilised way, and therefore to have a glass of wine or a beer at dinner in a secure environment such as their household. Doing this would mean that many young people wouldn’t take up drinking heavily, purely out of curiosity. It allows the chance to feel comfortable with alcohol, reducing the chances of excessive drinking.
Proper parental education to children could have a huge effect on underage drinking by reducing the reasons why young people drink in excess. Advice from a parental figure who has experienced the situations young people now face, and from someone who cares for them is invaluable to teenagers. This would have far more influence than any clinical slide-show that a teacher could present.
As a result of methods such as these, teenagers could grow into young men and women who feel comfortable about consuming alcohol. This confidence would allow young people to have fun without behaving in an uncivilised, vulgar and unpalatable manner that puts themselves and others around them at risk.
Image © Cytoon, from Flikr under a Creative Commons Liscence (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cytoon/2998234885/)