Drinking age

In the minor parties debate tonight, Tariana Turia, Winston Peters and Jim Anderton supported raising the drinking age back to 20. Rodney Hide did not support this, nor did Peter Dunne or Jeanette Fitzsimons, who both pointed out that the problem binge-drinkers are the 13-year-olds, for whom alcohol is illegal anyway. In their opinion changing the drinking age would not affect this at all.

I disagree. Where are these 13-year-olds getting their alcohol from? Sometimes their parents, but not normally enough to really get them into trouble. I would suspect they are primarily getting it from 18-year-old friends.

Raising the age from 18 to 20 won’t stop 18-year-olds drinking. They have always been able to obtain alcohol from their older friends. But it will make it a lot harder for 13-year-olds to obtain alcohol, because they will usually have fewer 20-year-old friends. So raising the drinking age should be an effective way of combatting teenage alcohol abuse.

Sexually active teen girls depressed

A study has found sexually active teenage girls are more likely to be depressed than chaste girls.

Research which appeared recently in the Journal of Health Economics has found that young girls who are sexually active often experience feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, regret and shame, and are far more likely to suffer from depression than those who remain chaste.

The study found that sexually active teen girls have more than double the rate of depression of those who are not sexually active – 19 percent compared to 9.2 percent.

Dr. Trevor Stammers, a lecturer on sexual ethics and chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK, said the new study confirmed that most girls “retrospectively showed regret about early intercourse.”

This may be partly because early sexual activity causes depression, but in my opinion is mainly the other way around – depressed teenage girls with a low self-esteem are more likely to seek to be valued in a sexual relationship than girls who are comfortable with themselves.

This is where fathers are important. A girl will want to be valued by men, either consciously or subconsciously. Without a father to value her (or with an abusive father) a girl is more likely to have low self-esteem and seek male affection and value in a sexual relationship. If we ever want to reduce our rates of teen pregnancy, depression, STDs, and single parenthood we must support and encourage fathers. You won’t stop these things with reactionary band-aids like condoms and antidepressants, you need to address the root causes – which come back to the family.

Hat tip: Family First

EDIT: If you have found this post while searching for support as you or someone you know is pregnant or has just had an abortion, Bethlehem House (Family Life International) offers free crisis pregnancy and post-abortion counseling in New Zealand. Check out www.pregnantandworried.org.nz or call 0800 3675433.

If you are not in New Zealand do some internet searching and you may find a similar local service.

Labour would axe school leaver exemptions

Labour’s Education Amendment Bill, introduced on Tuesday, would stop all school leaver exemptions for teens under the age of 16. This is completely ridiculous.

If a teenager is not interested in school, by the time they are 15, there is no point in keeping them there. They are perfectly capable of working – in fact, having people still in school at the age of 15 is only a recent phenomenon, throughout most of history and in most poor countries they would already be working at that age. If you force a teenager who is not interested in school to stay there, they will just get into trouble, disrupt everyone else’s learning, and not learn anything themself. They may play truant, and fill in their boring days with vandalism and petty crime, which could for some become the start of a long criminal career.

“The problem has been that teenagers leave school at 15 and become unemployed and end up on the street or go into a low-skilled job and remain there for life,” he said.

In saying this Mr Carter shows terrible disrespect for ordinary people in “low-skilled” jobs. Mr Carter relies on these people performing “low-skilled” jobs each day. Someone has to do this work. Who does Mr Carter want to shift the items he relies on in warehouses, transport his goods in trucks, sell him food at the supermarket, fill his car with fuel, milk cows – all those jobs that you can go straight into after leaving school at 15? Does he expect people to gain higher qualifications then go and do these jobs while trying to pay off a student loan? Or does he expect every NZ student to get a high paid “knowledge economy” job and us bring in lots of foreign immigrants to do the real work?

It is far better for a teenager to be in a job that they enjoy, and earning money, than to be stuck in a boring classroom. In the final two years of school, you don’t really learn anything of much use in general life. What you learn is primarily aimed at preparing you for university or polytech. If you are going to leave school and go straight into work, you may as well leave as early as possible and not waste time on the last year or two of school.

In proposing this, Labour seem to be a bunch of academics that are completely out of touch with the real world.

Hat Tip: Homepaddock