The Herald reports:
A doctor and mother of a King's College student – spurred by the death of 16-year-old James Webster – has written to fellow school parent John Key to demand action from the Government over New Zealand's youth drinking culture.
“Today my son (and yours) dresses in formal uniform to go to school and remember another student who has died this year,” Margaret Abercrombie said in her letter to Mr Key yesterday.
At first I thought it was the dead boy's mother, but it is another mother at the school.
Dr Abercrombie told the Herald she had a teenage son at King's and was aware of the pressures he faced at school.
“His mates drink and he's 13. They drink seven shots in half an hour of neat vodka. And they drink until they vomit, and that actually probably saves their lives sometimes.
And this is totally legal under both the current law, and the law proposed by the law commission. The Law Commission only targets purchase age and supply. They do nothing about whether it should be legal for a 13 year old to drink vodka.
I am happy to say I support a law where it is illegal to drink under a certain age. One can debate what the age should be but it is definitely above 13.
One could even have a graduated age like Germany had or has. At 14 you can legally drink beer, and at 16 wine and spirits. Again this can be debated.
But again changes to the purchase age for alcohol will do nothing to stop what happened. Neither will the new proposed law about supply, because no one supplied the dead 16 year old. He swiped a bottle of vodka from his home. And kids will always be able to swipe alcohol, unless families lock it up like they do with firearms.
Hence there needs to be some responsibility on the young drinkers. At the moment the law says you can get pissed on vodka at 13. If the law had a minimum drinking age, then parents could use it as a reason not to allow youth drinking, and Police could intervene at parties where 13 and 14 year olds are drinking spirits without adult supervision. At present they can do nothing.