Monday, September 17, 2007

Role Model Behaviour

Last week I heard a radio interview with a copper from Manchester, I think, or Liverpool, who said that ASBOs [anti-social behaviour orders, for those not au fait with the term] were not working - one of the reasons being is that when they are broken to the police's knowledge, people are going to prison, which hardens them and makes them far more likely to commit crimes later on.

This is interesting anyway, but particularly in relation to the calls for the drinking age to be raised to 21 in the UK, as it is in the US, due to such "anti-social behaviour." I honestly do not see the point. I have not met anyone here who did not drink due to the age, in fact, it just meant that they played Beirut, did keg stands and flip cup in sororities and fraternities. Which may be considered a safer place, but given the state of the kids, I'm not convinced. Essentially, youth will get its hands on alcohol somehow, no matter what age it is supposed to be.

Apparently, however, the youth is not the problem, not in the US. There have been calls, due to changes in mental health, to get the drinking & voting age raised to 25. Today, there is an editorial in the NY Times that exposes the fact that it is actually the parents of the youth, the baby boomers, that are the real troublemakers. Among the pertinent facts:

Our most reliable measures show Americans ages 35 to 54 are suffering ballooning crises:

  • 18,249 deaths from overdoses of illicit drugs in 2004, up 550 percent per capita since 1975, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • 46,925 fatal accidents and suicides in 2004, leaving today’s middle-agers 30 percent more at risk for such deaths than people aged 15 to 19, according to the national center
  • More than four million arrests in 2005, including one million for violent crimes, 500,000 for drugs and 650,000 for drinking-related offenses, according to the F.B.I. All told, this represented a 200 percent leap per capita in major index felonies since 1975.
  • 630,000 middle-agers in prison in 2005, up 600 percent since 1977, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  • 21 million binge drinkers (those downing five or more drinks on one occasion in the previous month), double the number among teenagers and college students combined, according to the government’s National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • 370,000 people treated in hospital emergency rooms for abusing illegal drugs in 2005, with overdose rates for heroin, cocaine, pharmaceuticals and drugs mixed with alcohol far higher than among teenagers
  • More than half of all new H.I.V./AIDS diagnoses in 2005 were given to middle-aged Americans, up from less than one-third a decade ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control
So there you go. I have been trying to think why. I'm pretty sure the wingnuts going to blame feminists and abortions, though; that's a given. Nonetheless, the question is not "It's ten o'clock; Do you know where your children are?" but "Do you have any idea of the stuff your parents are up to while you're out at the Dairy Queen sniffing speed?"

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