Above is a link to an article published in The Guardian that explores young people’s perspectives of teenage drinking â€“ if it’s going to be talked about so much in the media then we might as well know what the actual people the media is discussing think about their national portrait ‘as a bunch of booze-addled louts’?
The key points raised by the group of 17 young people that were invited to share their opinions by The Guardian and Drinkaware at a youth roundtable, included:
â€¢ Young participants thought the media portrayal of young people and alcohol was exaggerated. Nevertheless, many worried about friends, and how much some of them were drinking.
â€¢ They copied their parents, who also sometimes used alcohol to cope with the stresses of life.
â€¢ One participant thought that the taboo nature of alcohol made it particularly attractive. Others cited doing what other people did, a desire to have fun, relax and combat boredom.
â€¢ Many participants had their first drink at 13 or 14; a few were younger. One participant blamed the variety of alcoholic drinks on offer.
â€¢ A survey conducted by Drinkaware showed that people in general were starting to drink alcohol at a younger age.
â€¢ When shown tabloid press cuttings about young people and alcohol, several participants - but not all - felt the coverage was skewed against them.
â€¢ Several participants felt the media encouraged young people to drink.
â€¢ All thought schools needed to offer improved education concerning alcohol. It was felt they should offer advice about drinking sensibly, rather than prohibition. Â· Some thought that peer education worked well; others that young people needed to learn from their own mistakes.
However, perhaps the most salient thing about the opinions of these young people, is the fact that they have all had vastly different experiences of alcohol consumption and hold varied opinions on what would work to improve the stigma of teenage drinking, and moreover and how new schemes to reduce alcohol related problems in our youth population could be implemented. This emphasises the need for a more modern strategy to deal with teenage drinking â€“ as the policeman quoted by Jack, one of the young people involved in the debate stated, ‘We know you are going to drink and take drugs but do it somewhere quiet, do it nicely. If you do get drunk, call us. We will help’.
We can’t ignore the fact that our young people are started to drink earlier and earlier and that more than just a pint is consumed, but we can start to do is face facts and talk honestly to work out what help young people need â€“ whatever it is, it certainly isn’t more stereotypes.