Friday, March 01, 2013

What do we foster carers do about alcohol?

I'm gonna avoid the temptation to answer the question with a flippant joke such as: "Make mine a double"

Another report out this week finds that we're drinking far too much and lying about it to ourselves, our loved ones, our doctor.

As foster carers we often find that drink played a big part in the lives of looked-after children. And they want to try booze too, like other young people.

Before writing this, I did a quick Google, because I wasn't totally sure of the exact law about alcohol and young people.


Almost every other country on earth makes it illegal to sell alcohol to young people under 18. In the USA it's even older than that. Perhaps more importantly, in almost all other countries it's illegal for young people to drink alcohol at all; anywhere, anytime. Until they are 18 years of age. Obviously it doesn't stop kids entirely, but it's a good positioning statement. 

The UK is so standout different it's practically hilarious. It's illegal to buy and sell it until 18. Legal to drink it with food in public at 16. But; heads up folks: it's legal for children in your own house, or in a friend's house at 5. Yes, five years of age. It's even legal to give it to children under 5 for medical or other valid reasons.

No other country has laws anything remotely like ours. You can give alcohol, or more likely allow the consumption of alcohol by your six children aged between 5 and 15 when you're round your neighbours playing Foxy Bingo.

You can keep your 5 year old quiet with a slug of Drambuie in their can of Coke while you go upstairs with your husband's brother.

Seriously, genuinely, I find this the most gobsmacking, stupid, inexplicable, unbelievable law in the history of everything I've ever learned about any laws anywhere on earth. Ever. 

Actually, come to think of it, Apartheid is probably way more ludicrous, but at least it's off the law book nowadays.

Just for the record, this is officially the stupidest law in the world:

                                      In Ohio it is illegal to get a fish drunk.

Yet doesn't that show that the lawmakers of the state of Ohio care more about their fish than we do about our children?

Incidentally, if you want to keep up to date with Blue Sky's policy on alcohol and looked after children, it's in the Handbook, page 148, if I remember rightly. It's clear and thorough, sensible from every angle. In a nutshell, whatever the law allows, we don't give alcohol to looked after children, or tolerate them using it in our home. We don't promote it as being normal, or use it on ourselves (to the point where it compromises our care). There's also some information about how to deal with an intoxicated young person. which is worth checking out.

Oh and one other thing, the official stupidest law in the UK is:

                                   It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

Does make you wonder how many of them were dead from the neck up when they were making our drinking laws?

The Secret Foster Carer


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