The worry over underage drinking has become concerning in recent years. With the rise in soda flavoured alcohol popularity and cheap prices, coupled with an increase in ‘binge drinking,’ as a whole it is now not uncommon for teenagers to get dangerously drunk.
Many young people are regularly getting drunk at the age of 16, and some are even younger. There is a general perception that more and more alcohol is being marketed to a younger audience. Drinks are bright coloured and full of sugar. The taste of alcohol is hidden and a little like drinking soda; but it is not soda.
Some people would argue that they are simply kids being kids and out to have fun and that it’s part of growing up. To a certain extent, yes, this is true. However, it is still illegal, and still dangerous. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and leads to bad decision making which in turn, can result in dangerous situations.
As a parent, the thought of teenagers being out of control with no idea how to handle it is very concerning. There is an association with risky sexual behaviour, which can lead to the spread of STDs and pregnancy. Even worse, you are more at risk of being physically, or sexually assaulted.
The Statistics for Australia:
- 86.3% of Australians aged 14 years and over have drunk alcohol one or more times in their lives.1
- Around 1 in 5 (18.2%) Australians over 14 drink at levels that put them at risk of alcohol-related harm over their lifetime.1
- 17% of 15–18 years old say they had sex when drunk which they later regret.2
- 13% of ‘one punch can kill’ cases involved teenagers aged 18 and under.3
So, as responsible adults, what can we do to try and prevent it? A large proportion of responsibility must come from parents and schools through awareness and education. We shouldn’t stop trying to make young people aware of the dangers, aware of how alcohol works and aware of the repercussions of binge drinking.
There is also a large responsibility with alcohol vendors not to provide young people with drink.
Thanks to campaigning initiatives, many licensed premises now ask for ID from anyone who doesn’t look over the age of 25. This is a great step forward but is not fool-proof, as it is easy for young people to find a way around it.
The Role of Wristbands
A very effective method that is gaining popularity is to use different coloured wristbands to identify underage drinkers.
The premise is simple. At an event, like a concert or festival, all ticket-holders are given a coloured wristband which can identify them as legal, or illegal to drink alcohol. The attendees must wear these coloured wristbands to gain entrance or to purchase alcohol.
There are different options available depending which type of wristband you need for your event or venue. Some are digital and have a bar-code that links to identity data in their systems, and others are simply coloured, for easy glance by staff.
Let’s have a look why wristbands are becoming more efficient than the traditional ID, like a passport, driving license or ID card.
1. Wristbands are hard to lose.
When the wristband is fastened round the wrist, it takes a good deal of force to tear off, or a pair of scissors to cut it off. It is not just going to fall off accidentally. Plastic wristbands have a clip which allows the wristband to be put on, but not removed without cutting, whilst woven wristbands have a secure, sliding toggle.
2. Unique wristbands
As a venue or event holder, you can decide what the different wristbands mean e.g. red for under 18’s, blue for under 21’s, etc. There are even options to have woven or glow in the dark wristbands!
3. Wristbands cannot be transferred between people.
As the wristbands cannot be removed, underage customers cannot ‘borrow’ one from someone old enough. If they try to remove theirs or wear one that’s taken off someone else, it will be obvious to staff.
4. Wristbands are hard to fake.
We all know plenty of people who have fake IDs. The levels of technology used in wristbands make it tough for the black market to copy. Also, if yours gets lost or stolen, it will be apparent.
5. Wristbands make it easier for staff
Bouncers and bartenders can instantly see if someone is old enough to drink which stops confrontation and the use of fake ID’s.
6. Wristbands can replace ID
Customers won’t have to take their passport or drivers license to pre-booked events, and risk losing them. Many underage drinkers use their older sibling’s passport or drivers license to as ID; wristbands can stop this from happening.
7. Wristbands can be multi-functional.
Not only can they act as identification, but they can also be used as tickets to get into a festival or concert. This will stop ticket stubs being passed around and ticket touting.
Wristbands not only come in a variety of colours, but are available in different styles. For one-day events, like a concert or entry to a nightclub, there are Tyvek wristbands, that are easy to use and can be printed with barcodes. There are also plastic wristbands, which are popular for 2-3 day festivals as they are sturdier than paper ones. These are ideal for night time events because they come in neon colours, which can be seen easily by staff.
Woven wristbands are great for festivals as they are durable, hard to forge, and can also act as a memento of the occasion! The woven wristbands can also contain an RFID chip, which stores information.
Recently, RFID silicone wristbands have been developed. These contain an electronic chip embedded in it. These silicone wristbands could be used long-term so that you can carry an identity wristband around with you. At the moment, they are being used in places like gyms or clubs to show membership.
The use of wristbands is addressing the problems of stopping underage drinking. It’s an issue that we, as a society, need to keep on top of because, though we may not like to think it, young people want to drink. They want to rebel, and they want to have fun
We need to be on top of this because as soon as we come up with a solution, they will come up with a way around it! The benefits of wristbands make it increasingly hard for them to do so.
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1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2014). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: key findings. Canberra: AIHW
2 Smith, A., Agius, P., Mitchell, A., Barrett, C., & Pitts, M. (2009). Secondary students and sexual health 2008: Results of the 4th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society.