Young, British and Sober01:24 - Saturday 25 January 2014 - In Categories Health, Lifestyle
A few weeks ago the BBC Asian Network aired a radio documentary called Young, British and Sober - a particularly fitting programme for dry January! Writes Rena Dipti Annobil
The programme challenged the stereotype of teenage binge-drinking Brits and looked into why an increasing number of young people are choosing not to drink.
In 2001, 26 per cent of 11-15 year olds said they had drunk alcohol in the last week. In 2011, that had gone down to just 12 per cent.
Does this mean awareness campaigns are working? Is it due to the fact that alcohol is harder for young people to buy these days? Is it cultural reasons? Or is alcohol being replaced by drugs?
Well, the latter seems unlikely as drug use has seen a similar decline over recent years. Pubs and clubs are also getting better at challenging under-age drinking, and retailers have more of an incentive to check IDs after the government doubled fines for those caught selling alcohol to young people to £20,000.
The programme also highlighted the growth of the non-drinking scene, such as booze-free and shisha bars, and the fact that young people spend more time and money on phones and social media than drinking.
It seems demographic trends have also contributed. Muslims now make up eight per cent of the population under 16 in England and Wales – up from five per cent in 2001. Research has also found that pupils who go to more ethnically diverse schools are less likely to drink, whatever background they come from (stick that where the sun don’t shine BNP)!
As someone who rarely drinks and is married to a teetotaller, comments like ‘let your hair down once in a while’, ‘but what do you do to relax’? And, ‘I didn’t know you were Muslim’ (I’m not), are all familiar to me. So I have big respect for those young people who choose to rise above the pressure.