The latest instalment of the seemingly never-ending tide of hysteria about alcohol is a report by the charity 4Children entitled Over the Limit: The Truth About Families and Alcohol which:
warns of a silent epidemic of alcohol misuse by British families. The report warns that too many parents remain oblivious to the negative effects that alcohol can have on their parenting. An alarming 19% believe alcohol has a positive effect on their parenting ability and 62% of parents say that their drinking behaviour has no impact on their family at all.This is firmly rebutted here by Tim Black, who points out that alcohol consumption in Britain has now fallen to its lowest level for 13 years.
Furthermore, according to The Economist, supping rates have veritably plummeted among the young over the past 10 years. That is, the very people deemed to be vomiting and fighting at the coalface of binge-drink Britannia don’t actually seem to be drinking that much. ‘In 2003’, reports The Economist, ‘70 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds told interviewers they had had a drink in the previous week; by 2010, just 48 per cent had. The proportion of 11- to 15-year-olds who had drunk in the previous week halved over the same period. Heavy drinking sessions are down, too.’It would appear that the problem is already rapidly subsiding even while the moral panic is ramped up to ever higher levels. But, he points out, the more that alcohol is denormalised and taken out of everyday life, the more the social restraints and rituals that led to it being consumed responsibly will be eroded.
Ironically, given the way in which 4Children is using kids to bully parents into changing their ways, it is likely to be future generations who will be most affected by our increasingly uncertain relationship with alcohol. The normal ways in which young people’s alcohol habits are cultivated, perhaps through a glass of wine with one’s parents, or a pint down the pub with mum or dad, are being rendered abnormal, harmful even. Without older generations to mediate younger generations’ relationship with booze, youthful drinking habits are likely to become more infantile. Which is perhaps apt given the fact that adults are no longer considered capable enough to decide when, where and how much they drink.