Boozing Teens?

The Cincy Enquirer reruns a snippet from a Detroit Free Press editorial:

Ah spring, when a young person's fancy turns to thoughts of ... booze.

Despite all the warnings, it happens every year; a prom or party or graduation night ends in an alcohol-fueled tragedy. Maybe the victim is the "good kid" who just wanted to see what it was like, or the innocent bystander caught in the path of a young drunk feeling the need for speed. There's a lesson every time, but too late for the kids involved to learn it.

It's a lesson that needs to be taught much sooner, before age 13, when experiments with alcohol often get started.

More here.

I can't imagine many things more devastating than losing a child in a drunk-driving accident. However, The Free Press, or at least the snippet excerpted in the Enquirer, fails to mention the highly relevant fact that significantly fewer teens drink now. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, which has annually surveyed teenagers since the mid-1970s, the percentage of kids who have had a drink in the past 30 days has dropped by as much as 20 percentage points for high school seniors. More data here and here.

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  • ||

    The Free pass also fails to mention that bad things happen and will always happen. The idea that you hit a point of diminishing returns with regard to social programs never enters anyone's mind. As Gillespi points out, there has been a real change in teen drinking culture and a lot fewer of them drink than once did. That is probably a good thing. Rather than pat ourselves on the back and move onto a more pressing social issue, society sees the only the remains of the problem and none of the success giving us increasingly draconian sollutions with fewer and fewer results.

  • ||

    There are no "good kids". There are just "naive" parents.

    A kid that takes the risk takes the responsibility. Alcohol dangers are known, so after your first sip, you've taken responsibility for any subsequent actions.

    This is just another in a sesries of infantilizing everybody so big brother government can shield us from our own actions

  • ||

    Risktaking behavior in teens is both a bug and a feature. Given the lack of a fully developed executive function in the brain, they do things that adults rightly see as dangerous and stupid. Yet they continue to do these things and always will. Some will die.

  • ||

    John,

    Fear sells. It sells papers and magazines. It garners donations for nanny-statist organizations like NeoProhibitionist MADD. Saying "things are better, we can calm down now" doesn't sell.

    Couple that with the whole "frankenstein's monster" effect, and you've got a recipe for continuing nanny-state liberty-killing tactics. Did you know, for example, that MADD's original founder was upset with the direction that the organization eventually took (namely, dogmatically anti-alcohol), and when she voiced her opinions, she was driven out of the organization that she created? MADD is a money machine, and it makes its money by scaring the shit out of people. And what's more scary than the horrible specter of losing your child in a booze-fueled orgy of mischief?

    "And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride". Dylan's words are apt here too. What kind of headline is "Underage Drinking Rates Plummet!"? Choosing between that and "Your Child Could Die From Booze This Weekend!" is a no-brainer for editors.

  • ||

    Only this crew could turn a simple editoral pointing out that teenage drinking is still a problem into a chicken little episode about how the Nanny State is coming to take your booze.

  • ||

    However, The Free Press, or at least the snippet excerpted in the Enquirer, fails to mention the highly relevant fact that significantly fewer teens drink now.

    Well, fewer teens will admit to it, anyway, given the increasingly punitive/puritanical environment they live in.

  • ||

    Evan!,

    Fear also brings votes and government money.

  • ||

    "Only this crew could turn a simple editoral pointing out that teenage drinking is still a problem into a chicken little episode about how the Nanny State is coming to take your booze."

    Wait, wait...some newspaper breathlessly offers up several hypothetical nightmare scenarios wherein people are tragically slaughtered...and we're the chicken-littles?

    From the article:

    "The solution is prevention."



    And absurd naivete to boot! Giddyup. Trying to prevent underage kids from drinking is like trying to prevent them from fucking. This shit happens. It's always gonna happen. Prevention is not the answer. Teaching moderation and responsibility, is. Introducing your kids to alcohol on YOUR terms instead of theirs, is.

    "A parent willing to take the risk of playing spoiler to what some teen may think is going to be fun may be a lifesaver.



    And locking your kid in a bomb shelter until he/she is 30, like Branden Frasier, may be a lifesaver as well. Your kid could go out to school today and get hit by a truck. If only you had prevented him from going to school, you could have been a lifesaver.

    Underage drinking is involved in the deaths each year of about 5,000 people under 21. And no one is immune.



    Ah, the old "involved in" canard. Cripes. Do we have to go through this every time? If a teen has had one beer, then gets in his car and is killed by a sober person running a red light, then that is counted as one of those "5000".

    The article is dishonest, and exaggerates the problem. Don't put this on us, Peter.

  • ||

    These editorials come around every spring, just like the swallows come back to Capistrano; "What if little Johnny goes to a prom party and *gasp* Demon Rum is there, waiting to lead him down the path to degradation and squalor?"

    As one who believes in the power and value of information, I can't complain too much; however, I can state from experience that it doesn't really matter what happened to some other kid, when you're a teenager, because that stuff Always and Only Happens to the Other Kid. But it's worth a shot.

    What pisses me off about these fear-mongering exercises is when the writers call for the ruthless persecution of any adult who might dare to direct or control the process; that is, parents who host parties at which alcohol is present. The anaolgy which leaps into my mind is cars: imagine your neighbor, apparently otherwise sane, exerts every effort to shield his child from automobiles. He claims, and rightfully so, that allowing your child to ride around in cars is the most dangerous thing ever. But then, after this resolute effort to prevent the child from learning about cars and how they work, he gives the kid the keys to anything he wants, unlimited power, speed, and noise, merely because the little tyke has had a birthday.

  • ||

    Lock'em in the basement until they are 18 and then pack them off to the military.

  • Rhywun||

    the percentage of kids who have had a drink in the past 30 days has dropped by as much as 20 percentage points for high school seniors

    Am I the only one who sees this as a BAD thing? Where do these kids learn how to drink responsibly--their college dorm room...?!

  • ||

    And speaking of endorphin-seeking behavior, it is a bee-yoo-tee-ful day, at my house. Fresh snow and blazing sunshine; I'm going to wax my skis and toss them in the Land Crusher, now.

    Be seeing you

  • ||

    Rhywun,

    I'm right there with you. When I was in college, the kids who got dangerously drunk on everclear the first week of school were always the ones who had never had a drink in their life. I'm glad I learned by splitting a 12-pack 4 ways down at the schoolyard. Not much real danger there, comparatively speaking, but we got to feel like we were breaking the rules.

  • Passim||

    Rhywun

    I was just thinking that. While the kiddies are living in their parents' home, they may be terrified of alcohol. When they go off to college, they may explode like a volcano & end up dying of alcohol poisoning.

    As always, I blame parents.

  • highnumber||

    I was a straight edge youth in high school and waited until I was in college to really try drinking. One night, I got back to my dorm from watching "Helter Skelter" at my buddy's dorm. A bunch of guys from my floor were hanging out in the smoking lounge in the lobby and encouraged another fellow and myself to come upstairs for some shots of whiskey. The next thing I know, I'm waking up in my bed in vomit stained clothes and everybody's telling me, "Terry saved your life, man! You almost pulled a 'Bonham'!"
    So, yeah, maybe it's good to get some experience before one is away from home.

    Thanks, again, Terry!

  • Duckman||

    Yeah, in general our culture has a really backwards approach to teaching adolescents about drinking, drugs, etc... taking the stance of "it's banned, don't do it, or else!" doesn't educate people, doesn't take into account that many (or most) teens will do these things regardless of what their parents or the government says. I think it would be alot healthier for society if instead of the current hard prohibition of alcohol (and drugs) prior to age 21, drinking with parental supervision would be allowed earlier than that, allowing teens to learn to drink responsibly from their parents kind of like they learn to drive. Imagine how worse teen drivers would be if society said that you can't drive until you're 21, but once you turn 21, have at it?

  • Passim||

    God, I wish there were "libertarian parenting classes" for these sorts of issues.

  • ||

    The solution is prevention. Unless parents intend to accompany their children to all the spring dances and parties, that means talking to them beforehand about the consequences of drinking.

    I think we can all agree that a teenager would never, ever, do something foolish in the face of consequences. Never.

  • Passim||

    I do intend to accompany my brats to parties.

    I'll even let them host their own at my place. Don't think I'm trying to be "cool"; I just want them to have a good time without getting into too much trouble.

    Really, I think it's part of a parent's duty to be at parties. When I was young (1,000,000 years ago), it was called "chaperoning."

    And if I can't be at all of the parties, then other parents I trust will be. (Oddly, most of the parents ask me--seems I have an inordinate amount of time on my hands).

    Why do so many of my friends call me old-fashioned and weird?

  • ||

    "I'll even let them host their own at my place"

    Will drinking be allowed?

  • Rhywun||

    Imagine how worse teen drivers would be if society said that you can't drive until you're 21, but once you turn 21, have at it?

    Well, they wouldn't be teen drivers any more, would they? ;)

    Honestly, if I had teenagers I'd be more comfortable with them drinking than with them driving. Supposing I had raised them to drink responsibly, of course.

  • Gene Berkman||

    Looks like the Colorado based SAFER needs to open a branch in Detroit.

  • ||

    "Fear sells. It sells papers and magazines. It garners donations for nanny-statist organizations like NeoProhibitionist MADD."

    "Fear also brings votes and government money."

    Fear also keeps the local systems in line. Fear of this battlestation.

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