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My View: Youth Alcohol Action Plan misinterpreted

Published:  18 January, 2007

I hit rock bottom yesterday, having read the Youth Alcohol Action Plan and applauded it for recognising that "drinking alcohol is a normal activity for many adults in Britain and young people drink for much the same reasons as everyone else - to have fun, to relax, to socialise and to feel more outgoing".

It realistically attempts to tackle the 15% of 11-17-year-olds who drink more than weekly and who are responsible for 34% of their age group's criminal damage - by introducing a new criminal offence of "persistently drinking in public" to be used if parenting orders and acceptable behaviour contracts fail.

But my inbox is clogged by worried parents believing the plan means it will be illegal for them to give their child a drink at home.

Could the media have been reading the same paper? The action plan states: "drinking by young people in the home is clearly the responsibility of parents and families, not the Government".

My battle, however, is against the tarnishing of our youth in general. The lead on this week read: "Under-18s in Alcohol Epidemic", for example. But for 80% of under 15s it is not a problem at all. It's time they were celebrated and applauded.

Helena Conibear is executive director of Alcohol in Moderation