- Prof John Toumbourou puts the Myths to Bed
'It's hypocritical to not let my drink when you were drinking at my age!'
We are a lot better educated these days about he dangers of drinking, just like cigarettes smoking and not wearing seat-belts. We know all those things now are really risky and we wouldn't encourage them. So we're not being hypocritical, it's just that we're better informed.
'Kids mature physically and mentally at different ages, so some are ready to handle alcohol at 16.'
Based on the maturity argument, the legal drinking age should be lifted to 21 because the brain develops into young adulthood. The brain isn't really ready for alcohol at 18...rules are rules and some of those rules are set by age.
'Alcohol is safe for kids ages 16+ when drunk in moderation.'
"INCORRECT! Recent Victorian studies show many 16-17 year olds who drink in moderation develop alcohol problems in their early 20's. Other research shows young drinkers are more vulnerable to the changes in brain structure caused by alcohol. These changes increase tolerance for alcohol, leading to increased intake and greater desire to drink in later life. They often develop a greater thirst for alcohol when they become adapted to it, but it's having a much greater destructive effect than it does on adults. The young person's brain is still developing and it's vulnerable to poisons."
'Parents will know what and how much their teenager is drinking if they supply the alcohol.'
"Teens given alcohol by parents are more likely to use these drinks to kick off a binge. Young people tell us they drink the alcohol thief parents supply and then they drink other alcohol outside the parent's watch because the goal of drinking at that age isn't to drink moderately, it's to become intoxicated. Parents who refuse to supply alcohol have more success in curbing their child's drinking...So where parents set a hardline and refuse to supply alcohol, often the children rebel by drinking once or twice behind their back. With the partner who allow alcohol the child has to come home absolutely smashed in order to rebel."
'Drinking helps you fit in, is fun and gives you more confidence.'
"Kids don't need alcohol to have a good time and fit in, despite impressions created by alcohol marketing. Kids who don't drink perform better at school and develop stronger social and emotional skills, whole those who drink become more dependent on alcohol for their enjoyment. Often when they reach their 20's they're absolutely dependent on alcohol to have any fun. That's why alcohol dependence is so high at the moment in young adults. Bluff and bravado around drinking gives teens the impression all their peers are doing it. But in reality more health-conscious kids in early secondary school are choosing not to drink and are relieved when their parents set a 'no alcohol' rule.' (Herald Sun, Monday March 5th 2012)