Thursday, December 21, 2006

Too Much Too Young

Senior Victorian paramedic Alan Eade is at the pointy end of dealing with the results of kids and alcohol:

Ambulance officers warn that youth boozing is at epidemic proportions. A senior paramedic said alcohol-related violence was skyrocketing and the number of children being seen for alcohol poisoning was on the rise... Some cases involved children as young as 12 and 13 drinking enough alcohol to black out or choke on their vomit.
But no matter how much reality he's exposed to on the job, he might still be living in the '50s when it comes to where under-18s are getting it from:

"The alcohol is not from licensed premises, but more likely stolen from their parents' bar fridge. They don't understand how dangerous it can be and that alcohol is a poison," he said.
Stolen from their parents' bar fridge?

Tales of the recent Schoolies 'Festival' on the Gold Coast brought the following admission from Queensland Police:

Supt Keogh said (the) schoolies themselves had been drunker than ever. He said the levels of intoxication in some cases have been extreme and criticised parents for supplying their children with high-alcohol drinks.

"The supply of alcohol by parents to their children perhaps needs a bit of a rethink," he said. "They need to look at the ramifications of the kids consuming alcohol to excess."

Supt Keogh said the practice had become commonplace in recent years and, as a result, more alcohol was now being consumed by school leavers. Queensland school students graduate younger than those in other states, and the majority celebrating schoolies week are not 18 and able to purchase alcohol for themselves.

Last week, police were surprised to learn parents had also been restocking schoolies' fridges mid-week.

"Disturbingly, it's high-level alcohol -- its not low-level alcohol drinks," Supt Keogh said.
The traditional picture of young problem drinkers identifies:

- poor parental supervision and discipline
- truancy from school
- disadvantaged neighbourhood
- early involvement in problem behaviour
However, it appears the picture is quickly being revised.

The kids at Schoolies suffer few of these deprivations. In fact, their alcohol problem arises not from a lack but a surfeit of parental indulgence.

It's a problem we'll all pay for as an entire generation of violence and accident-prone, sexually infected, only vaguely employable alcoholics comes through.

-- Nick

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