I just read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that stated Barry O’Farrell, Premier of New South Wales, is planning on toughening the rules on underage drinking. Specifically, he is going after the notorious “house parties” that are often held, where parents supply alcohol and a venue for their teenage children to drink and party with their friends. O’Farrell wants this to stop. But this is the same stupidity that led to the  failed “War on Drugs”.

Stopping parents from supplying their children with alcohol or a place to party is not going to stop the children obtaining alcohol or partying. They will always find an older teenager that wants to be cool, an older teenager willing to accept money, a lenient shop keeper or even a shop keeper who is willing to accept money. That, or they steal it. They will always find a park, a piece of bush, a back alley, a boat (etc. etc.) where they can drink. They will ALWAYS find a way. The reason? They don’t consider it wrong. They consider it to be cool. Many practical parents, such as my own Mother for example, realise this, and take matters into their own hands (my Mother never supplied me alcohol, but she insisted on knowing when I would drink so that she could always come and pick me up or check on me). Parents either supply the alcohol or a safe venue for its consumption (sometimes both), so that they know their kids will be in a safe environment when they drink. Hopefully including adult supervision. This stops them drinking in parks, or parking lots, or shady back alleys etc. It stops them drinking outside where their drinking can lead them into dangerous situations. It stops them wanting/needing to drive after drinking. It provides suitable activities for the teenagers to do while drinking, so drinking is not the end all be all of the event. And it provides a concrete address if emergency services are required (et.c etc.). In other words, it accepts reality and minimises risk.

This rule will stop parents from minimising that risk. It will drive teenage drinking further underground, in a similar fashion to the way drug use has been driven underground. It may feel good, but it makes absolutely no real world sense. It is the same dogmatic/authoritarian crap that leads people to think that simply outlawing something will change behaviour or make the problem go away. This law may make O’Farrell and people who think like him feel nice, but it will do absolutely nothing to curb teenage drinking. Except, make it more unsafe. Please, don’t be stupid Mr. O’Farrell.

For reference, the Sydney Morning Herald Article can be found here: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/parents-targeted-in-teen-booze-crackdown-20120526-1zbnw.html