Saturday, November 16, 2013

Al-Ed, or Why We Should Teach Safe Drinking in School.

You know, I think it's time for the schools to have an Al-Ed class.
This proposed class would teach alcohol education using the same model we now have for Sex-Ed.
I think the schools should teach kids how to drink, (safely of course.) And I think they should hand out drinking paraphernalia, such as shot glasses of different sizes and perhaps beer funnels.

You probably think this all sounds crazy, but is isn't. 
It makes perfect sense if you open your mind for a moment and follow through logically. Kids want to drink alcohol. Great percentages of them try alcohol. The studies produced by experts indicate that experimentation in teens in normal, and even healthy. We should encourage exploration and protect them all at the same time by teaching safe drinking right in the schools. 

Why the school, you ask? Because the parents can't possibly teach it. Parents of teens are not involved enough in their offsprings' lives, and parents are mostly clueless anyway. 
Even more harmful, some parents operate out of a schema were teenage drinking is morally wrong and completely out of the question. Their kids are made to feel shame when they try drinking, and the parents attempt to 'correct' their child. 
Children from a home like that will never receive any other input outside of the parent's narrow worldview if we don't provide it. 

Wait, you ask, how on earth can we teach kids how to drink safely when "safe consumption of a known poison by juveniles" seems like an oxymoron? After all, you object, 

Alcohol increases the risk of:
  • Alcoholism or alcohol dependence
  • Falls, drownings, and other accidents
  • Head, neck, stomach, and breast cancers
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Risky sex behaviors, unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Suicide and homicide
Thus sayeth the National Institute of Health. 

I say 'Don't bogged down in details, and don't be worried by alarmists.'
People, mostly uptight religious fanatics with right-wing agendas, have been trying to convince us for years that Sex-Ed leads to premature sexual activity, and is harmful to children, but we know better. 
Kids are just going to do these things, and we need to teach them how to do it well.  I mean, safely.

Of course, we should also have live demonstrations of how to use the tools of the drinking trade both casually and creatively, much like classrooms have had demonstrations of how to use various birth-control.
We could have a whiskey tasting course, a drink-mixing course, and introduce kids to your basic drinking games, and maybe we could tap a keg right in the classroom so that they can learn how to do that right.
{Our goal is drinking proficiency, with adequate precautions as determined by trained Al-Ed teachers.}
And it's not too far out to suggest that kids could receive academic credit for attending these functions.

My most radical idea also happens to be my best one: Provide a bar in the school cafeteria. Yes, a bar. Fully stocked, too. {I would advise calling it a Drinking Center.}
For years, knowingly or unknowingly, schools have been providing a place miles away from parents for teens to explore their sexuality. Why not provide a place to safely explore the world of alcohol? 

To announce our Al-Ed class, and the new Drinking Center, we could hand out flyers to kids, with a message like this: 

"Drinking is very common. 

Only you can decide what is right for you. But teens considering taking up the bottle often find it helpful to talk it through with someone else. You may choose to talk with your sexual partner(s) or a trusted family member or friend. Pick someone you think will be supportive... no matter what your choice is. 

It's important to remember that you get to decide who is a part of your decision-making process.
Al-Ed centers, like the one right here in your school, have specially trained staff who can talk with you about all of your drinking options. But beware of so-called temperance or sobriety leagues. These are fake centers run by people who are anti-alcohol. 

They often don't give teens all their options. They have a history of scaring teens into avoiding healthy alcohol use. Absolutely no one should pressure you or trick you into making a drinking decision you're not comfortable with.

It may be important to take your time and think carefully about your drinking decision. But you may not want to wait too long. Whether you to chose drink or to stay sober, you should know that drinking is very safe, but the risks increase the longer you wait to begin. Lack of experience and knowledge can increase your risks when you choose to drink. "

Just imagine, a school cafeteria, bustling with teenagers, all of them filling up their trays with a nutritious and body-building school lunch, and then perhaps stepping down to the bar to add a drink to go with it.  Alcohol will be put in a positive, socially acceptable light. It will be a normal and natural part of a teens day, and gone will be the need for backroom drinking parties held in absent parent's basements. 
{Cafeteria workers will have to be trained in appreciating different drinks, so they can better guide the children. Perhaps one or two could be specially trained as bartenders. 
In this degenerate age most schools have security officers already on hand, so they will act as bouncers if a situation needs interruption} 

Our Al-Ed counselors will be the most valuable part of this operation. 
Imagine a single student, a plain girl in a pink sweater, seated at a table, looking across the room at the bar. Around the bar swarms the popular crowd: the cheerleaders, the football jerks. This girl sits alone, with a look of mixed envy and illness on her face. She wants to join them... but she also loathes them. 

Our Al-Ed counselor steps up beside her, and they begin talking. The girl, desperate for anyone to listen and understand, pours out her heart. She is conflicted about what she should do. Everyone, she says pathetically, everyone who's anyone is drinking. But she doesn't want to drink! 

Our counselor replies something along the lines of "It's an Ok choice to stay sober. Just remember, no-one can make this choice for you, and their is no right choice. Drinking and staying sober are both equal.  Staying sober isn't better than drinking. You just have to do what feels right to you. 
This is your choice. You are of the age when you'll want to try new things, and some of them will be unfamiliar, and may even feel risky and uncomfortable at first. That perfectly natural. Remember that 
almost everyone tries drinking, and it's normal to want to. I do think you want to, don't you?" 

At this point the girl will probably appear confused, as her present wants tangle up with her former prejudices. 
She will need our counselor's guidance. 

The counselor continues: "I suggest you practice drinking right here at school, at the bar we provide. If anything goes wrong as you learn your own limits, we are here for you. We can teach you the principles of safe sipping. The most important thing is that you drink because you want to, that it's consensual."

"But," the girl protests "What is consensual? I mean, how do I know if I'm drinking because I want to or just because Kelli and Cristi are drinking and I want to be in their crowd? I mean, how do I know what I really want?' 

Now it is time for the counselor to sooth: "Well, once again, nobody can make that choice for you, but neither choice is wrong, so really, both choices are right."

In a moment of unguarded honestly and lingering innocence, the girl whispers "But I'm just a kid. I don't even know what I'm getting into."

And the counselor replies, "Of course you don't understand it. You have to do it to know what it's about." 

{The above message I suggested could be handed out as a flyer was copied almost verbatim off of Planned Parenthood's website, I simply inserted drinking as the topic while they were talking about sex and abortion.} 

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