Friday, October 05, 2007
Kids and Drinking Revisited
I am a child of the "Just Say No" generation. My junior high school had a "No Team," and I was an officer. We took a pledge to not drink alcohol, use drugs or have sex. At the first "No Team" meeting, a heated debate ensued as we discussed whom to select as our honorary chairman. The two top contenders were Mr. T and Nancy Reagan. I rallied for Mrs. Reagan. In my junior-high earnestness, I tried to convince my fellow "No Teamers" that Mrs. Reagan would give our group integrity and a dash of panache. After much debate, Mr. T was selected. Over 20 years later, I still think Mrs. Reagan should have won.
I thought about the "No Team" when I sat down to talk with Stanton Peele. He is the author of "Addiction-Proof Your Child." A psychologist, Peele argues that the American "Just Say No" culture surrounding teen drinking actually encourages kids to binge drink. He says parents should let their kids drink at home, but in moderation. When Peele’s children were in their early teens, he allowed them to have a sip of wine or beer. By the time his children were in high school, they were allowed to have a glass of wine or beer with dinner.
Critics say that Peele is flat wrong and that teens are not psychologically or physically mature enough to drink, period. The response to Peele's story (Full Story) has been passionate and provocative. Many CNN.com readers have weighed in. Says Don, "This is as stupid as 'safe' sex. The smart answer is abstinence." Another reader, Andrew, says, "One simply needs to look at the numbers between Canada and the U.S. ... It's "madd" (pun intended) to have a forbidden fruit attitude. If the U.S. finally got out of the dark ages on the issue, we wouldn't have nearly the problem."
We want to know what you think. Should the U.S. lower the drinking age? Do you think kids drink more now than they did in previous generations? Also, what about "social hosting"? Do you think it is safer to have kids drink at home? If you are a parent, would you ever allow your child to have a party in your home that involves alcohol? You can hear more from Peele and his critics tonight on "Out in the Open" tonight at 8 ET.
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