A sad death

September 1st, 2012 at 11:02 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Michael Lafou was supposed to be hanging out with his mates playing computer games, but instead the teenager died cold and alone.

The 16-year-old Naenae College pupil sat near the Hutt River with friends and drank a concoction of booze – including straight bourbon, beer and RTDs – before his body was found on the water’s edge early on Wednesday, police have revealed.

They believe heavy consumption and the cold weather overnight may have contributed to his death.

His death came as MPs voted against raising the drinking age to 20 – a move that disappointed many in the health sector who deal with the consequences of grossly intoxicated teenagers.

He was 16, not 18 or 19. An age change would not have changed this sad outcome.

The death highlighted the dangers of supplying people under 18 with alcohol, Mr Hill said. “This is the harsh consequences of young people drinking.”

Absolutely. We need a culture change that you do not supply alcohol to those unable to purchase it legally. And the rest of the Alcohol Reform Bill changes the law to make it illegal for someone like Michael to be supplied alcohol without parental consent.

Bars and pubs were not at fault, and few liquor stores had been caught selling to underage people. Adults with access to alcohol were largely to blame.

Indeed. I hope they do find out who did supply the alcohol.

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31 Responses to “A sad death”

  1. Pete George (23,346 comments) says:

    This from the ODT today is relevant:

    ‘Gutted’ after booze sellers fail stings

    Nearly a quarter of Dunedin bars and alcohol retailers targeted in controlled purchase operations last year failed the test, the Dunedin City Council says.

    Figures to be presented to the council’s planning and environment committee next week showed police carried out 76 controlled purchase operations in Dunedin in the 2011-12 year.

    Of those premises targeted, staff at 18 sold alcohol to volunteer underage buyers – a failure rate of 24%.

    The current laws at 18 years old are not being complied with. We need current laws enforced before we bother about tougher laws.

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  2. Anthony (785 comments) says:

    There needs to be much more severe consequences for those caught selling to underage buyers.

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  3. my 2 cents (1,091 comments) says:

    sorry DPF.
    I think you all keep missing the boat here.

    He (the silly twat) drank to excess along with other stuff he took, if people don’t drink to excess then there is NO RISK.
    How hard is this to take in?

    When the culture in this country by ALL THE ADULTS is that getting drunk in public is not acceptable then we will be dealing to the binge drinking culture, not until then.
    Because you all encourage them by getting drunk in public or tolerating others.

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    What about a hardline on public drunkenness. Instant arrest and fine and a weekend of community service – then erased from your record. I think if society accepts public drunkenness, then the culture change is hard to bring about. Greens will complain no doubt and blame Lion Nathan for society’s problems, but what else is new.

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  5. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ my 2 cents

    Didn’t read your comment until i’d submitted mine. Looks like we agree on a few things.

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  6. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    No doubt some Young Nat/Green/Labour will complain that the previous generation got to be publicly drunk and it’s not fair on the latest generation. Perhaps. But don’t we want culture change?

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  7. Pete George (23,346 comments) says:

    my 2 cents and East Wellington Superhero – I agree too. Laws are only fiddling while Rome burns.

    Overdrinking is an individual, a family, a community and a society problem. It will only be improved if individuals, families, communities and society is open and honest about it and address it themselves.

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  8. David Garrett (6,786 comments) says:

    Yeah, you are missing the boat all right…Purchase age 21 (as it was when I was at school) = de facto age 17

    Purchase age 18 = de facto age 16…or younger

    That said, I agree with Anthony: When a couple of liquor outlets get shut down for a week for selling to under agers, the problem will be largely solved. Ironically given their strident opposition to my bill, Labour had a “three strikes” bill on the Order Paper that would have automatically cancelled liquor licences for any outlet caught three times selling to under agers.

    my 2 Cents: So at 16 you were never a “silly twat” ? Ever? Well all heil to you sir…. Whoever gave the kid the alcohol has blood on their hands.

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  9. nasska (10,917 comments) says:

    East Wellington Superhero

    Good suggestion….you could even do away with the fine because it would be the inconvenience of losing a weekend that would prove to be the deterrent.

    The lack of any meaningful consequence is the root cause of much antisocial behaviour.

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  10. Chris2 (768 comments) says:

    I never cease to be amazed that when young idiots drink themselves to death or kill themselves on the road that they are described by their teachers as “well-liked”.

    And to prove my point this child’s headmaster is quoted saying “a well-liked boy, and staff and pupils were saddened by his death.”

    He was found dead early Wednesday morning. Normal, well-cared for children are tucked up in bed at this time, or getting ready for school – not out on the piss. What do his parents (assuming he has two) have to say for themselves?

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  11. bringbackdemocracy (416 comments) says:

    Binge drinking is worse with a alcohol purchase age of 18 than it was when the age was 20. We have done the experiment, it failed. By having the age at 18 the liquor industry has an extra 200,000 potential customers than they did when it was 20.
    Which political parties receive money from the Liquor industry?

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  12. wreck1080 (3,815 comments) says:

    You have insufficient evidence to discount the 18 year old purchase age as having a bearing in this case.

    The closer people approach the legal drinking age the harder they will try to get booze. And, they can also get older siblings who are above the legal age to purchase for them.

    Lowering the drinking age to 18 means that 16 year olds are thinking it’s ok to drink since they’re pretty close to being legal and if they have 18 year old siblings then they also have a means to secure a good supply of booze.

    Those in the health sector are at the coal face of this problem. Not those who voted for this.

    In saying that I was able to get booze at 16 years old from the local wholesaler — everyone knew that they sold to under-agers and in my opinion the place should have been shutdown.

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  13. Harriet (4,616 comments) says:

    bringbackdemocracy#

    When the age was 20, most males drank beer.

    The object was to see who could ‘hold their beer’ as that is what real men did. Anyone who got pissed, spewed and passed out was thought of as a ‘pussy’.

    Sadly now, most men don’t teach their sons to drink properly, as maybe, it is looked upon as being the complete opposite – ‘encouraging’ them to drink.

    It was also common knowledge that you had to handle your beer before you could drink from the ‘top shelf’.

    One thing I’ve found rather disturbing over the years is the lack of encouragement from the police for fathers to do the right thing by their sons. There is nothing wrong with the suggestion that fathers should be fathers – as they are called that for a perfectly good reason.

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  14. SGA (959 comments) says:

    I have mixed views about the drinking age. I agree that it if you can strap on a rifle and defend your country, vote, marry etc., then it is odd you can’t buy a beer. That said, many senior students at high school turn 18 in their final year, and it provides an easy way for younger friends to get access…

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  15. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    He would have had friends 18 or so and obviously got access to alcohol. Your argument about purchase age is stupid I got alcohol at 16 quite easily.

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  16. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    It could well be this young mans first introduction to alcohol. It would explain why he didn’t know his limits or who to call on for help. There are too many questions to be condemning him or his upbringing. It’s an incredibly sad loss. It’d be good if we could teach our kids how drink as well as the French do.

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  17. 3-coil (1,204 comments) says:

    Chris2 (12:07pm) – the headmaster also cryptically added that “…he needed a fair bit of nurturing” ( which translates as?)

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  18. Harriet (4,616 comments) says:

    “…..It’d be good if we could teach our kids how drink as well as the French do….”

    We are not allowed to smack children while the French continue to serve small amounts of alcohol to 11 & 12 ylds.

    Can you imagine the sqwarking from Labour and the Greens frowning females and some male doctors? :cool:

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  19. SGA (959 comments) says:

    @labrator

    Apparently the french are having problems of their own with youth binge drinking
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1823730,00.html

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  20. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    My curmudgeonly response is that we’ve been waiting 20 years to see the booze culture change after dropping the drinking age to 18 years. It has to take a real game changer to stop seeing these kind of miserable stories in the dailies.

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  21. David Garrett (6,786 comments) says:

    Monique: Well said…I am probably older than you, and I remember when “neighbour taverns” were all the go when 10 o’clock closing was being mooted…wonderfully sophisticated drinking culture we would have…according to the fantastists, when 10 oclock closing came, most pubs would be empty at closing time, because people would have a few over the four extra hours of drinking, and then wander off home between 6 and 10…instead we exchanged the 6 o’clock swill for the 10 o’clock swill…and the pub lights on full and the fire alarms going at 10.10pm as signal for us to all get in our cars parked in the booze barn carpark and drive home…with one eye shut if necessary…plus ca change, plus ca meme chose….

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  22. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    My curmudgeonly response is that we’ve been waiting 20 years to see the booze culture change after dropping the drinking age to 18 years.

    Monique, you started swinging your curmudgeonly cudgel a little early. The 18 change only took effect in 2000 (or a few months earlier), so we are still yet quite some way off a 20 year efficacy assessment.

    As others have pointed out, the 18 & 19 years olds haven’t created the binge drinking problem. They’ve just brought it to a wider public attention by starting out a couple of years younger than was in the past. And by introducing this notion of ‘pre-loading’ – which could actually be argued to show that they are more financially astute than their forebears.

    (Having said that, all of the arguments of the late ’90s that NZ was maturing as a (drinking) culture and reducing the purchase age would lead us to be more like continental Europe in our drinking don’t appear to have been realised)

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  23. Steve (North Shore) (4,524 comments) says:

    Pete George at 12.

    “Overdrinking is an individual, a family, a community and a society problem. It will only be improved if individuals, families, communities and society is open and honest about it and address it themselves.”
    Sitting on the fence as usual Pete.
    ‘Overdrinking is an individual problem’ fixed it for you Pete.
    “Someone Else” is used when you don’t own your own shit. Overdrinking is not just a young/teen problem.
    YOU OWN YOUR OWN SHIT no matter how old, or gender

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  24. David Garrett (6,786 comments) says:

    righto Steve…so you had it completely together at 16 did you?

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  25. Kimble (4,417 comments) says:

    Hands up if you are certain you couldnt have gotten alcohol as a 16 year old back when the minimum purchase age was 20.

    You have insufficient evidence to discount the 18 year old purchase age as having a bearing in this case.

    Insufficient evidence to not believe something? Thats not the way it works. The best you can say is that you cant rule it out completely, but to assume that this means you cant even have a low estimate of its probability of being a factor is going way too far.

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  26. SGA (959 comments) says:

    @Kimble

    This is a bit silly. It is not an all-or-none game. *Sometimes* we could get alcohol as a 16-year-old back when the minimum age was 20 (I had a friend who was a NZ schoolboys rugby rep and a provincial under-18s rep – wear the provincial dress jersey, get the beer). It’s an issue of *ease* of availability – not all-or-none. Nowdays, we have some high school students spending their weekends in the pub and nightclubs quite legally – that’s different. For what it is worth, I’m not wildly against the 18 yrs limit, but it HAS changed things.

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  27. Kimble (4,417 comments) says:

    Nowdays, we have some high school students spending their weekends in the pub and nightclubs quite legally…

    Right. Because they are 18. This kid was 16. That’s the point. If you COULD get it when you were 16 at the legal age was 20, then moving it back to 20 wont solve a thing.

    Moving it back to 20 because of 16 year olds is about as fair as it would have been to move it from 20 to 25 because of 19 year olds.

    You are restricting the freedom of one group because of the actions of another.

    18 is the right age. Use some other mechanism to solve the problems with 16 year olds.

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  28. SGA (959 comments) says:

    Sorry Kimble, you’ve clearly misunderstood my comment in its entirety. Never mind – it’s late, I’m off to bed.

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  29. mpledger (429 comments) says:

    I still think that alcohol should be available for school children. The purchase age should be 18.5 as the majority of kids turn 18 in the second half of year 13 i.e. kids born before 1 June move to year 2 in school and kids born after spend another year in year 1 – you have to spend at least 6 months in year 1.

    That way alcohol wouldn’t perculate into the social culture of school as much.

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  30. my 2 cents (1,091 comments) says:

    David Garrett
    stop pissing on the conversation.

    never pissed as a 16 yr old.
    Yeah I’ve got pissed in my life aged 18-2456+/-, but not in public this end of it.
    When I’m out it is 2 drinks and if with food then I might have a beer followed with a couple of wines and maybe an almanac with my coffee/dessert. Thats over 2-3 hrs so is absorbed.
    At home or at friends it could be different, though usually not as I have got into the habit of not getting pissed.
    My family never drive drunk.
    We keep a liquor cabinet and love entertaining.

    There is NO certainty of prosecution.
    People do not change their behaviour without a paradigm shift or painful consequences.
    Kids will try all they can to emulate adults.

    Maybe when a few thousand of us have come before the beak and got a 1st strike (and the attendant first offence counselling) then we will start to address the issue?

    Until then deaths will continue to occur and other peoples evenings will be spoilt or trashed by drunk people not knowing they are a bunch of cunts to everyone around them.

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  31. my 2 cents (1,091 comments) says:

    Kimble
    my experience was sat night if we had a meal at home with parents friends we could have a beer or wine.
    usually the port and brandy bottle was put on the table with the cheese board and coffee pot.
    That part of the meal (incl cards) could go from 8-midnight with all the war stories of my parents and friends.
    us kids just loved being at the table and sharing. My mates loved coming round for tea on a sat often the cousins popped in and before you knew it the music was on in the front room and we’d have dancing.
    we never got drunk at home and were limited to what we were allowed but did drink with our meal and with coffee.

    same with family celebrations a glass of wine or a beer was ok for the 16+, and also when we occiasionally went out to s rester aunt enfamile.
    we didn’t get drunk.

    one local pub across the road from the nick had a pool hall and we went there for a beer 16-18 and one was all we were allowed by the landlord. noone got drunk and noone caused trouble. just had a beer and played darts or pool.
    the cops would look in to see who was about.

    where I got pissed was down the rugby club and in the army and I may have been a right arsehole some times as I can’t remember.

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