"Wed, Apr 07, 2010 The Straits Times - Teens gather for 'picnics' - with booze
EVERY Friday, groups of teenagers between 14 and 17 years of age dress their best and head for 'picnics' by the river.
On the agenda: Cheap booze, crisps, conversation, and some rowdiness when the alcohol kicks in.
A check by the newspapers reporter found 2 groups at 2 different locations - one local and one with international school's students. In a Straits Time survey of 20 under 18 in 2006, 50% felt underage drinking is no big deal, while a survey of 80 under 18 this year, 7 in 8 expressed this sentiment!
If left unchecked, underage drinking can damage memory and attention span, and raise the risk of alcohol dependence and abuse in adulthood accordingly to a Consultant Psychiatrist."
Well it looks like the ratio of those who think nothing of underage drinking has risen by a lot since 2006 straw poll! It will be interesting to get more complete data and information on how many underage drinking do we have, how many are local and foreign, etc.
Anyway, assuming this is a grave challenge, the lessons for me are:
1. some teenagers, actually some adults too, do not know what is good for them despite having the knowledge of the type of damages that underage drinking can wreck on the body and the mental well being. With this group of people, force need to be exerted. They forfeited their right to exercise the good judgment of 'hands off' alcohol. It is time for tough love to deprive them of such an indulgence by force;
2. for those who knowingly supplied the alcoholic drinks to the underage, they MUST be cut out too. Vigilant and firm enforcement must be taken to put them away in such a manner that demonstrated clearly the cost far outweighed the profit they can make from such a sale! Business people with no sense of social responsibilities just have to learn the hard way! Again, forces must be used;
3. the parents who may not know their kids are underage drinkers. While it is easy to say they should know and should had kept an eye on them, it is not realistic to expect the parents to control the teenagers so tightly that they felt they have no freedom! Actually, the parents SHOULD be very strict with the teenagers. Knowledge must be shared and then rules laid down clearly and enforce without exception. Parents must also be a role model and do not indulge in drinking. This may be even more difficult for alcoholic parents!;
4. the most effective way is of course in situation where the teenager understood that drinking is NOT a macho thing to do and has the maturity to make good judgment to wait till he or she hit legal drinking age and drink responsibly!! I am sure there are a LOT MORE non-drinking teenagers than drinking teenagers in Singapore! So, the problems may not be that serious overall though 1 teenager drinker is 1 too many!!
Wait till you are legally ok to drink. Don't drink if you do drink. Don't get killed in a fight after you are drunk. It is way too cheap to go in that manner! Be careful!!