Do you know what the law says about how old a child needs to be before they can drink alcohol?
The law says,
‘It’s illegal for children under five to drink alcohol at home or on private premises’
So basically those responsible for the child are legally able to give alcohol to a child that is five or more years old. ‘Responsible drinkers’ may well see no harm in giving a child alcohol. After all they probably drink it, most people drink it and only alcoholics end up in trouble with alcohol, but they are considered to be different and it will ‘never happen’ to them.
In fact many drinkers start with a ‘naughty little tipple’ at a young age, and even though many will dislike the taste and their bodies will be trying to reject the alcohol, they will often persist. They will want to please dad, or maybe mum, or someone that they particularly respect. They will want to be ‘grown up’ and to ‘fit in’ and so they will drink it until they ‘acquire’ the taste.
Alcohol is an addictive substance. Anyone can get hooked, although some may be more vulnerable than others due to the circumstances in which they find themselves, including how they are taught to manage their lives and their emotions.
If a child grows up in chaos and witnesses those close to them struggling with life and using alcohol in an attempt to ‘self medicate’ their way through it, then they may choose to do the same. Our children don’t always listen to us, but they are always watching, and they will often ‘copy’ what we do.
What they are intended to see will also be supported by advertising. They will be shown happy partying people, sophistication, glamour, a ‘responsible’ culture of recreational drug taking.
Their own eyes may witness a contradictory real life version of that culture. It may include vomit, injury, violence, hospital, arrest, and people arguing and fighting, embarrassing photos, unintended infidelity and ruined relationships, not forgetting the numerous days lost to hangovers.
At least some of the foundations of how we behave in our adult lives are formed by what we learn during our earlier years, and to some extent we are reliant on those bringing us up to make ‘responsible’ decisions on our behalf.
So does the law needs changing? Or does the way we educate our children about drug use, including alcohol need a closer look?
Probably both I would suggest.