We learned previously that alcohol is a social problem that has been with us for centuries. It is not necessarily a sin and it does not itself cause diseases, but it does affect long life. We learned that the meaning of temperance was changed to mean abstinence, and after the repeal of prohibition, there was no organization that promoted temperance. We learned that alcohol is a crutch and that the alcoholic is a mentally or morally ill person who needs treatment.
The problem of the alcoholic is over for us, but it is facing our children, and our problem is, “What are we going to teach our children?” and “How?” Before we can learn how or what to teach, we must know the problem. We might, depending upon the person interviewed, be told that drinking is important or unimportant, widespread or non-existant, etc. We need to know what the facts are before we start.
The following statistics are not conclusive. The represent only one high school in one town, but they may be taken as a guide.
Never Drink Occasionally Frequently
1941 78% 20% 2%
1945 71% 27% 3%
1947 66% 30% 4%
Own or Friend’s Home Bar Car or other
1941 79% 14% 7%
1945 74% 13% 12%
1947 59% 28% 13%
Here are questions that these students wanted answered: Will drinking injure me in my athletic training? Will drinking make me fat? Is whiskey more injurious than beer? How can I drink without becoming a drunkard? Can I do more work if I drink? Why do people drink? Why is drinking allowed? Will drinking cause (disease)? How can I know when to stop drinking before I get drunk?
These statistics and questions point out some things to us. The “never drinks” are becoming fewer and fewer and the others are increasing. The number drinking at home are becoming fewer, and the other groups are increasing. The questions indicate that the young people are more interested in the things that drinking does to them now than in the future. This ties in with the thought previously stated that “scare” education is ineffective. Not shown in these statistics, but developed in others is the fact that drinking increases with the grade in school. … more 12th graders drink than 11th and so on. Another set of information secured about college girls showed: Of the groups of non-drinkers, infrequent, occasional, near regular and regular, the largest single group was the regular drinker with 27%. This investigation also revealed that the years 17 to 18 were the critical age so far as drinking is concerned. Drinking apparently began somewhat later than smoking.