The Herald reports:
New Zealand’s high youth death rate among developed nations has been blamed in part on its alcohol-buying age of 18.
A leading suicide researcher, Dr Annette Beautrais, of Auckland University, said this “relatively low minimum drinking age” was a more likely explanation than the better methods New Zealand has over some countries for recording and investigating deaths.
Oh bullshit. Why can’t people check the facts out. The prevalance of young people drinking has in fact been significantly dropping.
In 2006 the annual ALAC survey found 53% of 12 to 17 year olds were drinkers. In 2010 this figure had dropped to 32%. That is in fact a 40% relative reduction in the prevalance rate of youth drinking.
And if you go back to before the age dropped from 20 to 18, in 1997, 80% of 14 to 18 year olds were drinking alcohol despite it being illegal to purchase it. There is no direct data for the the same age range today, but the closest we have is 53% of 15 to 17 year olds were drinkers in 2010. Overall there looks to be fewer minors drinking today than when the purchase age was 20, and beyond doubt the rate has fallen massively since 2005.
Why does the Herald run a story that gives one side of the argument only, and no dissenting views?
For the avoidance of doubt, of course alcohol is a factor in the suicides of some young people. But that is a hugely different issue to whether or not the purchase age being 18, not 20, has changed the rate of youth suicides.
The same ALAC research incidentally found 60% of youth binge drinkers had their last drink at home or a family member’s home, and only 27% were at a friend’s house. So the major supplier of alcohol to young drinkers tends to be family members, not 18 and 19 year olds.
The law change that is needed is to make it an offence to supply alcohol to minors, except with parental consent and in a responsible fashion. That is in the Alcohol Reform Bill, and should be supported strongly as a measure which will make a difference.
Scapegoating 18 and 19 year olds, and blaming them for youth suicides is not the answer, and is quite reprehensible.
Oh just spotted this at the end of the article:
Dr Beautrais said that, on its own, the split age was unlikely to have much impact on the suicide rate.
Oh my God. So even the source of the story says this, yet the headline is “Lower drinking age blamed for high rate of youth deaths”.