Drunken trend - Tragic end… !
By Maxwell Pereira
Jt. Commissioner of Police/Traffic, Delhi


"Birthday bash ends up in midnight smash" sceamed the headlines in one of the dailies. No less gory were the accounts of the tragedy elsewhere! A birthday celebration turned into tragedy for six teenagers when the Maruti Baleno they were travelling in spun out of control and collided with an oncoming Ambassador car in the opposite carriage-way on Pritviraj Road in the heart of the Capital late on Friday the 14th March night. Three of them lost their lives, while the other three and the driver of the Ambassador were seriously injured. Survivors and the dead had to be extricated from the smashed mangled remains of the Baleno by the police disaster management team.

Changed life styles influenced by media overkill, lack of parental and societal controls over the young, and an over indulgence in intoxicants that give a 'high' are normally blamed. The fact remains - young lives get snuffed out in their prime, causing untold misery and trauma to loved ones they leave behind… causing heavy damage and loss to the community and the country in terms of vibrant human stock lost forever.

Time to sit up and take heed. Here are some social tips to both - the young, and their parents…. May be these will help to some extent!

To the young:
" Know the law. Alcohol is illegal to buy or possess if you are under 25 in Delhi.
" Get the facts right. One 12-ounce glass of beer has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of whiskey or a 5-ounce glass of wine.
" Stay informed. Wine coolers look like juice sparklers but they have just as much alcohol as a 12-ounce beer. One glass of clear malt can give a teenager a .02 on a breathalyzer test. In many countries abroad even this amount is enough for anyone under the age of 21 to lose his/her driver's license and be subject to a fine.
" Be aware of the risks. Drinking increases the risk of injury. Car crashes, falls, burns, drowning, and suicide are all linked to alcohol and other drug use.
" Keep your edge. Alcohol can ruin your looks, give you bad breath, and make you gain weight.
" Play it safe. Drinking can lead to intoxication, degeneration into alcoholism and even death.
" Do the smart thing. Drinking puts your health, education, family ties, and social life at risk.
" Be a real friend. If you know someone with a drinking problem, be part of the solution. Urge your friend to get help.
" Remain alert. Stay clear on claims that alcohol means glamour and adventure. Stay clear on what's real and what's illusion.
" Sweep away the myths. Having a designated driver is no excuse to drink. Drinking only at home, or sticking only to beer does not make drinking any "safer".

To the parent:
Communication tips to protect one's child from alcohol and drugs:
" Set a good example. "Do as I say, not as I do" doesn't cut it with teens. Adolescents can understand that some things appropriate for adults are not acceptable for teens. But keep that distinction sharp. Do not allow children to mix cocktails, bring you a beer or sip from your wine glass.
" Emphasize that actions have consequences. Talk about why values such as honesty, self-reliance and responsibility are important.
" Make your opinions known. Adolescents are less likely to use alcohol or drugs if they know their parents disapprove of teens using those substances. And start your talks early. Average age to start talking to you kid is may be when he is 12.
" Set firm but reasonable rules. Tell your child what behaviour is expected. Explain the reasons for your rules and discuss the consequences for breaking them.
" Be consistent. Make it clear to your child that a no-alcohol rule remains in effect at all times - in your home, in a friend's home, at a party, anywhere.
" Get to know your child's friends.
" Get to know the parents of your child's friends. Have everyone agree to forbid each other's children from consuming alcohol or drugs in their homes and pledge to notify each other if one of you becomes aware of a child who violates the pact.
" Call parents whose homes have been known for parties. Make sure no alcohol or drugs will be tolerated. Don't be afraid to check out a party for yourself.
" Be straightforward. Tell your child that you know what happens among many teens, maybe even their friends, and discuss why your child should not participate in those activities. Point out the dangers of alcohol use.
" Give your child a way out. Discuss in advance how to contact you or another adult to get a ride home if alcohol or drugs are being used at a party.
" Don't be naive. Watch for signs of abuse like dropping grades at school, a sudden change in friends or missing money. If you sense a problem, seek help.
" Find time for your children. This is paramount.

(The author can be reached at http://planetindia.net/maxwell or his email: maxpk@vsnl.com ) 850 words. 18.03.2003: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com


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