UK psychologist and author Dr Aric Sigman will be telling 200 delegates representing more than 75 family-focused organisations and groups at today’s NZ Forum on the Family in Auckland that the drinking age should be raised to 21, in line with the US drinking age.
“New medical evidence on accident probability, disease and brain development makes it absolutely clear that delaying the age at which teenagers and young people have high access to alcohol will reduce the level of damage they and society suffer at the moment,” says Dr Sigman.
“Contrary to scaremongers and alcohol lobbyists’ messages, banning alcohol until age 21 will not, as parents fear, cause teenagers to rebel and drink even more. And parents who exert authority over their teenagers about drinking and are strict, are more likely to find their children actually drink less, not more, alcohol.”
“We forget that children and young people absorb our values and rules about alcohol and other things – even though they claim otherwise. And this subconscious knowledge that the government and parents stand together on this matter will exert a positive influence on young drinking habits.”
“We need to explain to them that it’s not because we merely want to exert control over them for the sake of it and prevent them from enjoying themselves, rather it’s because we care deeply about their health and safety,” says Dr Sigman.
“Although raising the drinking age to 21 is not a magic bullet, it will buy our children and society some badly needed damage limitation. 18 to 20 y/o’s will complain about it now but we must remember that there are many 14 y/o’s who will soon be 18 and it is this next group that will benefit particularly from an established drinking age of 21.”
“Above all, parents and governments must not pander to what teenagers are interested in – they should do what is in teenagers’ best interests,” says Dr Sigman.
Dr Sigman is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Fellow of the Society of Biology, a recipient of the Chartered Scientist award from the Science Council and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He has recently been invited to address the European Parliament in Brussels on the Quality of Childhood in the European Union later this year. He is author of the ‘The Spoilt Generation: Why restoring authority will make our children and society happier’ which is being launched at the Forum on the Family.