Government to Introduce Alcohol Nannies
|by Leo Olivero
The GBC Viewpoint discussion programme the other night on ‘Teenage Drinking & Whether the Legal Limit should be raised to 18’ was I thought a dull affair.
The programme panel consisted of the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, a young 18 year old local Student, a Police Superintendent and the Head of the Youth Service.
Before the programme got underway the GBC microphones were out in Main St asking the public their views regarding ‘increasing the drinking age.’ It was no surprise that the majority of adults who were asked thought the drinking age should be increased to
18 years, this included the Chairperson of the Woman’s Association, although as you would have expected the youngsters themselves thought it wasn’t a very good idea to raise the drinking age – no surprises there!
Young Philip: the student on the panel started his contribution by saying that there was a problem with alcohol and under age kids; he even mentioned that these young people end up in hospital to have their stomach pumped because of the abuse of alcohol.
This young man also said that bars were not stringent enough when checking youngster’s identity at the entrance to these establishments; and said the police do not spot this either referring to under age youngsters gaining excess into licensed premises!
Although he thought that raising the drinking age was not the only solution?
The Chambers CEO: also favoured a rise in the drinking age to 18 years.
Although in contrast the other two panelists representing official agencies had a totally different perspective regarding this issue.
The Head of Youth Service: amongst other things said -- that the issue will not be solved by rising the drinking age, and that kids are quite capable of understanding the situation and making their own decisions.
The Police Superintendent: appeared undecided and apprehensive to give a straight answer to the question of ‘whether the drinking age should be raised’ only limiting himself in answering that the police have to operate within the boundaries of the law, or words to that effect, I think we all know that!
Here was the opportunity for these Government agencies to explain to the public the real problem with underage drinking and the abuse of alcohol and drugs that everyone knows exist except them!! The police could have presented statistics regarding the numerous crime arrests which are drugs and alcohol related, what we heard, was the same old Playing Down Routine we are accustomed to – what a public service!
What shallow opinions from Official Agency Professionals, I cannot imagine why they did not consider other important matters related to this issue such as the following:
•When the GBC presenter started the programme by saying that half of all Bruce’s Farms admissions are ‘Alcohol Related’
•The fact that over 70% of all crime as undisputedly drug related as reported in Panorama which includes alcohol, and that in many of these police arrests youngsters are involved who have consumed large amounts alcohol, drugs or both!!
•The important well known and established facts of the physical, mental and health implications connected with underage drinking.
•The many families that have been caught up with this terrible situation of having a youngster hooked on alcohol and drugs at such an early age.
How the Police and Youth Service cannot favour an increase in the drinking age is unbelievable, but not surprising, as it follows a similar pattern in the manner this whole issue is been handled by Government. It appears to me that Agencies involved in this matter are either apprehensive (in the case of the police) in not giving a straight opinion or answer to a simple question, or in the case of the youth service who appear to be following a similar line we have seen from Government all along.
Government Thinking of Making a Joke with Underage Drinking Law?
The Viewpoint presenter also alluded to the fact that Government was to announce a change in the law but with some variations or something in that nature.
Sources have unofficially informed me that Government are thinking of making a complete joke and mess with this law, my information is that they intend to raise the drinking age to 18 years as most people would like, BUT, GET THIS -- they also intend to allow these 16 and 17 Underage Kids to drink alcohol under Parental Supervision.
This would be in any ‘sane person’s book’ a totally stupid idea, and those people who are contemplating this move should really think again and do some home work and get real please!
You see my own research has revealed that experts feel, ‘the approach of liberal parents in introducing alcohol to their teen children in a bid to promote responsible drinking generally backfires, in reality it promotes heavier drinking in and out of the house.
A new research ‘discredits the belief that parents who allow their teenage children to consume alcohol within the family and at home settings exhibit signs of good judgment and maturity’
Dr. Haske van der Vorst of Radboud of the University Nijmegen in the Netherlands who headed this research said, "The idea is generally based on common sense. For example, the thinking is that if parents show good behavior, modest drinking then the child will copy it, he said ‘Another assumption is that parents can control their child's drinking by drinking with the child.
The results of the study negates the general assumption that parents can control their kid’s alcohol intake by drinking with them and steering them clear of drinking problems in later life. The researchers found that the impact of parental supervision had in fact an adverse effect on the adolescents’ alcohol use. In addition, they were more likely to suffer from greater alcohol related problems at school or work and be embroiled in fights and truancy.
The Research noted that teenagers who drank in the confines of their home under the watchful eye of elders were more prone to binge drinking outside irrespective of where or with whom they drink
Haske van der Vorst says, "I would advise parents to prohibit their child from drinking, in any setting or on any occasion.”If parents want to reduce the risk that their child will become a heavy drinker or problem drinker in adolescence they should try to postpone the age at which their child starts drinking."
The details of the study are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
If the Government is thinking of some ‘Sloppy ill thought out Law’ that would see parents transformed into ‘Alcohol Nannies’ when ever junior ventures out, and this is the best solution to this social issue, than I fear for the kids of Gibraltar!
What Government should be doing is to update their 8 year old Drug Misuse Policy and bring it up to date with current drug trends, including issues such as Cocaine now being the favoured local drug, and the massive problem with underage drinking and alcohol and drug abuse in general, there is no official Government policy on alcohol abuse at all.
The Government Drug Policy is 8 years past its sell by date.
It’s never been so easy for local youngsters to obtain and consume drugs and alcohol; we should not be handing kids alcohol but should be distancing them from this Drug.
Back to the GBC Viewpoint programme, it was interesting again to note that there was no Minister giving a Government view to such an important social issue, although there was a World Cup Match on at the same time? But, where was the Governments Drugs Coordinator, why was he not on the panel. It makes me think, just how the matter surrounding the misuse of drugs is really being tackled behind the scenes.
I would also like to say to GBC that when they ask the public ‘to have their say and send in e-mails with questions’ etc, they should tell presenters to check the inbox in the viewpoint e-mail, I sent in an e-mail with 3 questions to the programme, the presenter forgot to look at his on screen Lap Top which must have been there as a prop!
If parents are to supervise their kid’s alcohol consumption as I have been led to believe is the Governments intention, is this not encouraging underage kids to drink and make alcohol consumption at such an early age socially acceptable and a norm in Gibraltar.
Is this the kind of culture we really want for our young?