Friday, 29 July 2011

The Epidemic That Refuses To Materialise

Through gritted teeth, the BBC reported some good news yesterday.

Between 2009 and 2010 the percentage of 11-15 year olds who had tried alcohol fell from 51% to 45%.

The NHS Information Centre figures also suggested "a shrinking number think that drinking and drunkenness is acceptable".
So positive was this story that even the ubiquitous Don Shenker doom-mongering quote was missing. Unsurprising, really, since it just isn't possible to spout Alcohol Concern's most popular soundbite of "pocket money prices fuelling under-age drinking" in this context.

In fact, it's worse than that for Don and his chums, as the Straight Statistics team reports.

The general trend ... has been a steady decline for the past decade but the 2010 figures suggest this decline is accelerating. The numbers saying that they had drunk alcohol in the past week fell from 18 per cent in 2009 to 13 per cent in 2010 – five percentage points in a single year.
And to illustrate this, here is that under-age binge-drinking epidemic in glorious technicolour.

From the above, it's clear that whether alcohol is being sold at 'pocket money prices' or not, the point is moot. Kids are increasingly choosing not to spend their pocket money on it. There's simply no urgent problem here.

Of course, for regulars at Chez Dick this comes as no surprise, but after years of being told the sky is falling with regard teen alcohol consumption, half the commenters at the BBC article express total disbelief. Instead, it must be the kids lying, they say. In an anonymous survey. Over ten years. With different kids each time of asking.

So, despite the source being impeccable, and the respondents having no axe to grind, our bovine public are still - in large numbers - inclined to believe misinformation produced by lobby groups, whose funding relies on creating scare stories where none exist, rather than stark incontrovertible fact.

When the handling of social issues is so out of balance as is definitely the case with the perception of our nation's drinking habits, it's well past time to look seriously at why the likes of Alcohol Concern are funded as generously as they are.


orcman said...

Any idea how many kids were involved in the survey and over how wide an area the survey was taken? Useful info if in discussion with a doom sayer.

Dick Puddlecote said...

7,296 pupils from 246 schools, Orcman.

Longrider said...

I did smile when I saw this one yesterday. Damned inconvenient, what?

Lyn said...

A little off the subject of under age drinkers, but on the subject of so called professionals in the medical world.

On visiting the ladies loos at Sandbach services this morning, there was a advertisement on the door for me to read whilst I contemplated!

It said Save a Male. Apparently if men carry their mobile phones in their trouser pocket they are likely to become infertile!

There were some little tearoff slips which say 'Take one, and Save the Male' and gives this web address for further info:

Whatever next, I wonder?

nisakiman said...

Of course there's always the possibility that kids have wised up to these surveys, and now lie through their teeth. Blimey, I always lied when I was asked if I'd been drinking when I was a young teen. Self-preservation, innit!

I sometimes wonder what it is that makes some people so bristlingly self-righteous. Do they have no vices at all? Or are their vices so dark that they feel the need to publicly declaim against other, lesser vices, in an attempt to deflect attention from their personal deviances...?

Longrider said...

Do they have no vices at all?

Maybe they prefer not to advertise them?

david said...

Same thought had crossed my mind Nisakiman. A lot of kids must realise that major efforts are being made to stop them doing grown up things (apart from sex, of course). So the kids let 'them' think 'they' are succeeding... by denying something that other kids once admitted, or pretended to have done, in earlier polls.....(if you catch my drift). Children aren't all stupid, and if there's one thing I've learn't after being one and rearing 3, kids will always try to be one step ahead of adults. Lying is central to the process.

Besides - alcohol, despite all attempts to prevent kids getting their hands on it, is very easy to access. Similarly drugs and tobacco. Hell, attic grown weed is a major industry these days and smuggled tobacco is freely available.

In a nutshell, I simply do not believe the latest figures.

Gregster said...

Are you all saying that kids are lyhing when the study was designed so they don't have to? Lots of gullible people on you blog Dick.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, just maybe, at their recent “tutorial” session with the anti-alcohol lobby, the anti-smoking lobby cautioned against too much untrue scaremongering on behalf of the anti-booze brigade – the logic being that whilst their own scaremongering tactics were highly successful (having no precedent within living memory), with their lies and exaggerations and manipulated statistics daily being proven to have been such in the wake of the smoking ban, perhaps they advised the anti-alcohol crusaders that a better tactic, in their instance, would be not to fabricate any stories which people could clearly see with their own eyes were not true – teenagers on street corners slumped in a drunken haze, for example. The slant instead will perhaps be: “See! Look how well our ‘nudging’ and ‘education’ programmes are being in stopping all these young people from drinking!” – thus justifying more of the same.

Not that I’m cynical or anything (as if!), but it’s unusual for the BBC to report any health-related story which doesn’t support the aims of at least one of their favourite healthiest movements. Unless, of course, they’ve been instructed by them to do so …