max asks: What’s the reason for the increase of young teenagers that drink today?
Hi max –
I have to be honest with you, max. I’ve been looking around the internet, and I’m not seeing clear statistics about an increase. In fact, in the US, it appears teenage drinking has gone down in the last decade.
But don’t get the idea that I’m saying it’s not a problem. That reduction might well be because teens are doing more of other substances!
What I think you’re seeing, max, is due to two factors. One is that as people get older, people younger than them look younger! So if you were, say twelve, and you saw a fourteen-year-old drinking beer at a party, you were seeing an “older teen.” But if you’re thirty and you see that same fourteen-year-old, you’re seeing a child!
The other factor, though, is that for the last sixty years or so, things that had previously been hidden have come more and more open in our societies. Sexual stuff is, of course, the most obvious (girls would have probably been arrested in 1952 for wearing things that are now considered normal everyday fashion!). And of course drug use was virtually unspoken back then. But it did exist – it was just way more invisible.
And drinking is that way too. While teens did drink, and often drive (you wouldn’t believe how many fatal car crashes there were in the 1950s), there was no pop culture singing songs glorifying it like there is now. So then it was either the toughest kids who were sneaking beers, or the most conformist ones, who were drinking champagne at their parents’ celebrations. Whereas today, it’s considered normal for young teens to go to parties with no parents, where songs about getting drunk are playing all night.
What hasn’t changed at all, max, is the health facts. Young teens are still growing, and alcohol use can impair that growth. Alcohol is extremely addictive, and the number of teens who are dealing openly with alcoholism IS on the rise. Adolescence is a time when humans are growing fast and dealing with incredibly difficult issues, from how to handle their desires to how to drive a car, and decisions on both are severely affected by even slight alcohol.
I’m not a prude, max. I’ve tasted beer and scotch, and liked them both. I’ve seen lots of humans have wonderful times under the effects of beers and wined and liquors.
But I just love kids. I love young teens. And I absolutely hate seeing anything that has the chance to hurt them or their lives.
So I share your concern. And I join with you in asking – begging – those daring, exciting, questioning, experimenting, life-loving teens out there… please, Be Safe. Learn about what you’re doing before you do it. Keep controlled, keep moderate, take your time.
Your whole lives are ahead of you. Unless… they’re not.
Thanks for the great question,