This Daily Mail online headline is shocking.
It’s not that fact that hoards of teenagers are engaging in dangerous levels of illegal alcohol consumption. It’s the use of the word ‘shame’ in the headline: the implication is that these pesky, forward teenagers are drinking dangerously whilst sticking two metaphorical fingers up at authority and the law in general.
But the truth is far more complex than that. A recent TV documentary illustrated a case study of teenage drug use as a direct response to family trauma. The Daily Mail article also ignores the role of the drink manufacturers who market alcohol as a panacea for confidence, allure and sophistication. The very attributes that young girls on the threshold of womanhood feel evade them.
Richard Darlington, author of the Demos report on which the Mail Online editorial is based, lets the lucrative drinks industry off the hook by saying: “Criticising industry for enticing underage drinkers is only addressing the “supply side” of the problem. Ministers need to address the underlying problems of low self-esteem and poor parenting.”
A YouGov survey found that more than a quarter of girls aged 16 and 17 in Britain, said they drank alcohol to ‘cheer themselves up.’
The current series of Channel 4’s Sex Education Show, which I had the pleasure of taking part in, tackles the issue of the increasing sexualisation of girls as young as 6/7 through clothing sales, the highly provocative music videos they can watch during the day and men’s mags at child’s eye height in major retailers. The pressures on female teens are intense: losing virginity, relationships with family, educational choices, relationships with younger siblings, caring for sick or elderly parents, unplanned pregnancies, financial issues in the family, body image…it goes on and on.
So rather than pile ‘shame’ on young female heads, let’s take a collective societal approach.
Instead of scorn, shame and ridicule, young women need support, nurturing, love and guidance. In that, we all have a role to play.
‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny.’http://tinyurl.com/3js524d
© Suzy Rigg