Pubdate: 13 Feb. 1999
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Section: Sec. 1
Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Larry A. Stevens and  Marty Nachel


SPRINGFIELD -- Zero tolerance is not the answer to college binge
drinking; rather it is the very cause of this behavior. The phenomenon
of college binge drinking is the direct result of our efforts to
eliminate all alcohol consumption among 18- to 20-year-olds.

There is no avoiding mixed messages when a zero-tolerance alcohol
policy is imposed upon young adults who are also marketed to by
mainstream advertising campaigns for alcoholic products. No matter how
glamorous breweries, wineries and distilleries attempt to make
consumption of their product seem, none of their efforts could ever
have quite the effect of prohibition.

Although we fret about what messages we are sending these young
adults, we should be paying more attention to the message that they
are sending us--that is, "See how disasterously counterproductive your
feeble attempts at controlling our behavior are?"

Under zero-tolerance, there is no opportunity for young adults to
learn the responsible use of alcohol they are expected to practice
beginning on their 21st birthday. If they were allowed at least to
have a beer or two or a couple glasses of wine with their dinner at
home or in a restaurant, this important socialization process would
make binge drinking much less likely.

Larry A. Stevens


ORLAND PARK -- In addition to Peter Palanca's tips for avoiding mixed
messages about alcohol ("Kids and drinking," Voice, Feb. 4):

- - Parents who enjoy an occasional drink in the home should do so
openly. Moderation is key.

- - Show children that wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks are
acceptable beverage alternatives (for adults) at the dinner table.

- - Allow children a small taste; this will not only satisfy their
natural curiosity, but it will also help to avoid the "forbidden
fruit" syndrome.

Marty Nachel
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