Socialise, not criminalise youth

Communist Students member Carey Davies examines state proscription and media demonising:

The recent period has seen the rights and freedoms of young people further threatened under the auspices of combating ‘youth drinking’.

Last week a new plan to tackle the supposed problem was unveiled by the government. Predictably this struck a chord with the media, which went into scaremongering mode, sparking an animated public discussion over the issue. This was accompanied by much brow-furrowing generally over related matters like the rights and responsibilities of parents, the problem of tearaway youth and the rise of the urban underclass.

The hotchpotch of measures comprising this ‘youth alcohol action plan’ include cracking down on off-licences which sell alcohol to under-18s, forcing people to attend parenting courses if they refuse to curb their children’s drinking, making teenagers sign ‘acceptable behaviour’ contracts and granting the police more powers to break up groups of young people. The laws will also criminalise under-18s who are found with alcohol on the street through a new offence of ‘persistent drinking in public’. In other words, a host of non-solutions ranging from the pointless to the oppressive.

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