Youth binge drinking in France

According to the BBC news, binge drinking was once thought to be the exclusive province of young Brits and Americans, but now French adolescents are defying cultural stereotypes and drinking heavily with the intention of getting drunk, too.

According to the story, "The (French) government recognises the problem and plans to raise the legal age for buying alcohol from 16 to 18 next year."

"In some parts of Paris, municipal authorities have already targeted teenage drunkenness by declaring "dry areas" where drinking on the streets is banned at night."

"These measures mark a major shift in a society which used to take pride in initiating children into the art of sipping wine with their parents from an early age."

"The consensus was that this approach bred a moderate, mature attitude to alcohol."

"A glass or two of wine at home over dinner, it used to be thought, protected the French from the need to indulge in a British-style Saturday night booze-up at the pub."

The article goes on to state, "Our societies resemble each other more and more, and binge drinking, especially at weekends, has developed in recent years in France," says Patrick Bloche, mayor of the 11th Arrondissement, or district, of Paris."

Of course there is opposition to new French policies. People argue that teens are going to drink not matter what restrictions are put in place. This is simply not true. We have plenty of research that backs up the idea that prevention works. We know that teaching youth refusal and other social skills reduces underage drinking rates in a community. We know that parents who talk to their children about alcohol make a significant difference. We know that anti-underage drinking community norms make a difference in prevention. As our society's change and become more alike, it's important to remember that old ways of prevention and harm reduction may need to be re-assessed and updated.