Newsround, the cheerful version of the evening news for teenagers, recently carried out research into adult binge drinking and how children felt about it. The results revealed that a third of children felt scared when they saw drunken adults, and that the majority of children still stated that they would drink when they grew up.
The discovery of such opinions stirred up the old moral panic surrounding our culture of binge drinking as it implied our children would carry on the great British tradition of irresponsible dancing, driving, kissing and vomiting the next day at work. Distressed by the issues, Childwise research director, Rosemary Duff, argued that the antidote was effective education about alcohol from an early age.
However, even though parents were mentioned as the probable inspiration for children wanting to drink in the future, they were not considered at all in the solution. Whether we like it or not, we are all primarily shaped by the adults who put food in our mouths, held our hands to cross the road, and put clothes over our heads.
I find it odd to see the amount of effort adults put into making sure their children live in the right houses in order to be accepted into the best schools, or the preventions they put in place to stop their children from mixing with ‘bad’ company, when they are simultaneously more than happy to allow their little darlings loose themselves in the bottom of a wine bottle. We reveal alcohol to our own children and blame the situation on the education system, advocating the responsibility to teachers.
Schools also have to deal with finding solutions to underage sex and drug abuse. The answer to everything is always the provision of more information so children can make an informed choice when they come face to face with these issues.
But it is not knowledge that is the core of our decision-making. It is the attitudes and values that have been instilled in our hearts from the day we were born. This is proven by the example of when in the county of Derbyshire, a drop in teenage pregnancies came after the authorities spent time producing a leaflet to inform parents on how to speak to their own children about sex.
The primary responsibility for a child’s development is placed at the feet of the parent. Even if education for alcohol abuse were stepped up, adult drinking would continually undermine it. It is time we realised that the most dangerous and positive influence comes from parents themselves.