Anti-social behaviour. We like talking about this a lot.
We like talking about it so much we gave it a name. Always worrying. Like we're inviting more of it in, and excusing it at the same time. We're pretty good at that. Labeling the problems we aren't too keen to fix but enjoy complaining about. It's become synonymous with gangs of children who are out of control. Violent. Destructive. Disrespectful. Ugly behaviour so publicly displayed. Terrible how distasteful our young people have mysteriously become.
It's' always drink-related. Always. Yet we aren't making the connection.
We have created a nation of children who have grown up around massive alcohol consumption. Huge. For at least the past eight years, social networking has made it irrelevant whether it takes place in their own home or not. Everyone has a platform to share learned behaviour with susceptible peers.
None of us were prepared for this.
We didn't even see it coming.
A nation of children who don't fear actions to consequences.
Because there are none.
A child can attack someone. Can even kill and not be held accountable for their actions - especially if their judgement has been impaired by alcohol. In our legal system alcohol has become the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card for minors partaking in anti-social behaviour.
Actually let's just drop that label before we go any further please, shall we? Call it what it really is. It's not anti-social behaviour. It's 'drunk child behavior'.
And we made them this way.
We sell alcohol cheap enough for children to buy. We keep the stuff they can afford within incredibly easy access. If I suggested moving your medicine cabinet into your living room, removing the tablets from their bottles so your child can have a go at whatever takes their fancy, I assume your wouldn't be too thrilled. Why is your drinks cabinet any less lethal? Why aren't are there no child locks on spirit bottles?
If medication started being marketed in brightly coloured packaging with cartoonish labels on I'd be seriously f*cking concerned. So why are our alcohol bottles tarted up like it's happy hour at the playground? Who decided that was the decent thing to do? Since when did children become disinterested in wanting to have nice-looking things?
Even before we started hiding our cigarette packets behind closed doors - did you ever see them positioned right next to the checkout? The one place your child has to stand without moving. Why is it okay for the alcohol displays to be there? When was the last time you even consciously noticed it was laid out that way?
We are hurting our babies by allowing them to live like this.
We are doing this - not them.
Now it is time we started fixing these broken children.
By adjusting our homes to protect our children from what's in them. Addressing how we conduct ourselves around alcohol. Accepting that we are being watched by our children all of the time. Realising that their behaviour is just a reflection of what they see.
Hitting companies who put profits before our children's safety right where it hurts - in their wallet.
By tightening laws on adolescent drunk-child behaviour.
Because the only thing scarier to me than these little ones running around being drunk children, is that it won't be long before they are grown ups.
Drunk grown ups are harder to fix than drunk children - and more expensive.
That's not even taking into account the children who wont make it to adulthood, the casualties of our epic alcoholic denial.
If we start now then we can still fix this. If we don't? Then I'm frightened for us all.
We need to start and provide the consequences for our drunk children's behaviour. Not have them be the consequences of ours.
Follow Carrie Armstrong on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarrieArmstrng