CNN’s Health section has an interesting little item called Letting Kids Drink Early Reduces Binging in which Stanton Peele, psychologist and author of “Addiction-Proof Your Child,” suggests that educating your children about drinking by introducing it in the home is a timeworn tradition that will reduce binge drinking later in life.
From the article:
He says many of the programs set up to stop alcohol abuse contribute to the teen binge-drinking crisis. Any program that tells kids flatly not to drink creates temptation, he says. “Preparing your child to drink at home lessens the likelihood that they are going to binge drink,” he says. “Not sharing alcohol with your child is a risk factor for binge drinking.”
Missing the point, of course, Drug Free America Foundation director Calvina Fay equated Peele’s philosophy with “giving permission to your children to do harmful things.” (Though why Fay’s commenting at all is a mystery since her foundation has almost nothing to do with alcohol.) At any rate, cultures around the world have been teaching their children about drinking in the home for centuries without harming their offspring. I’d certainly be curious to know why she thinks that teaching your kids to drink responsibly could in any way be “harmful?” But I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, most of these groups seem to take an all or nothing approach. They don’t see degrees. They see alcohol (and drugs) as all bad, not just bad in excess or if consumed irresponsibly. It almost seems like a failure of imagination. If you think all drinking is bad, then it would be impossible to understand how teaching your progeny moderate and responsible drinking for enjoyment would be valuable to them when as young adults they are faced with peer pressure and have to make their own decisions. And as Peele suggests — and I think he’s quite correct — the neo-prohibitionist’s absolutist policy of no education and just saying no is making the problem of underage and binge drinking far worse than it needs to be. There’s an old adage, “a little education goes a long way” but I guess in the mind of the neo-prohibitionist that doesn’t include alcohol education. Until it does, it’s hard to swallow that they really care at all about curbing underage drinking or stopping binging.