Even with all the news coverage on the subject these days, teen and pre teen alcohol abuse is a lot closer to home and more widespread than most realize. I always like to think that my little nieces and nephews haven't tried to drink yet (they're 8, 9, 10 and 11), but these days it's more likely than not that they have. It's just all out there right now, everything. Sex, drugs, alcohol, you name it. I would be afraid to be a parent of a teenager right now.
As jaded as the typical New Yorker can be, I still found myself quite shocked when I came upon a group of teens toting one of their drunken friends home from school today. You can think that you've seen it all, but when these types of incidents occur they can still shock the hell out of you. It sure did me.
Picture it, 4:00pm in the bright daylight of afternoon, the streets full and as alive as you'll usually find them at this time of the day in the city, and kids of all ages are coming home from school. At a crosswalk, I come up behind this group of teens, 4 boys, 3 girls, about 14, 15 years old, I'd say, and notice that one of the girls is being held up on her feet and guided to walk by two of her friends. Upon a closer look, I see that this girl is totally and completely SMASHED. I mean, wobbling, falling down drunk. She's babbling and giggling, causing a scene, and her friends keep telling her to shut up. She promptly doesn't listen, and just loudly talks gibberish on and on while they help to keep her standing. Obviously they're not trying to draw to much attention here, and she's not helping!
The traffic light changes, and they help her across the street, with her hanging, stumbling and babbling the entire way, her face beet red. I'm just wondering what in the hell they are going to tell her parents when they finally get her home. I swear, I know it's probably more common than I would like to think, but it nearly shocked me out of my shoes! It was the middle of the day and out in the bright daylight on a school day!
I remember sneaking drinks with my friends as a teen around our houses. All of our parents had liquor cabinets, and we would figure out ways to get into them. It was mainly a weekend thing. That doesn't make it any better than what extent other kids took it to, I know. However, We did draw the line at taking liquor to school. That would have been putting our feet too close to the fire.
So, even though I was no saint myself as a teen, it still knocked me for a loop to witness this. I know about the peer pressure that comes along with being a kid of any age. I know all about doing whatever rebellious thing you can get yourself into behind your parents backs. It was fun, it made us feel grown up and oh so brave. How cool and refreshing it was to thumb our noses at authority! You couldn't tell us anything! Given the dangerous and not so smart things we did trying so hard to be bad asses back then, thank God most of us survived!!
It made me really sad to see that drunken girl coming home from school today. I hope she survives, too.
Hopefully she'll get the worst hangover of her life after it's all said and done and not want to touch the stuff ever again. One can only hope! ;)
What oh what to do to keep your kids and teens from all of the dangers and pitfalls of life? God only knows.
Anyway, here are some facts and statistics regarding teen alcohol abuse. I am a bit surprised that some of these numbers are so high:
Alcohol is the number one abused substance by teenagers in the United States
Underage drinkers account for 11.4% of all the alcohol consumed in the United States
Teen alcohol abuse also plays a role in other types of injuries as well as contributing to higher incidences of unwanted or unplanned sex.
Teen alcohol abuse is the number one cause of injury death, which is the leading cause of death in people under 21. This includes car accidents from DUI, physical fights, homicides, suicides, falls and toxic poisoning to name a few.
Alcohol abuse increases the occurrence of teen dating violence. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), among college students under age 21 alone, 50,000 experience alcohol- related date rape and 430,000 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
--National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
While these are stats based on teens in the US, I'm sure that underage drinking is a problem in some other countries as well.