A U.K. group has devised a unique method of warning children about the dangers of alcohol: give them “beer goggles” that simulate what it’s like to be under the influence.
Of course, this wasn’t the only approach used, but the interactive drug workshops are generally well received and provide a memorable introduction to the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The local-government-run Safety Crew Initiative focuses on providing school workshops to tackle such issues as drug and alcohol misuse, antisocial behavior and hate crimes. The group travels to get key messages out and raise awareness of the issues.
How Beer Goggles Are Combating Alcohol
The crew’s visit to Market Bosworth High School has attracted attention, mainly due to its use of “beer goggles” to illustrate the effects of alcohol on children. The beer goggles were designed to mimic the effects alcohol has by simulating the visual distortion, slowed reaction times and general confusion that occur when one is under the influence of the drug. Of course, this wouldn’t be much use on its own (other than being a novel and memorable experience), so the headline-grabbing part of the approach was supported by other visual tools and informative talks about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. To illustrate the damage caused by alcohol, for example, the children were shown a pickled liver.
The chairman of the Community Safety Partnership, David Bill, commented: “It is really important that we teach the youngsters in our community about the risks and consequences of substance misuse. We need to give them information and advice so that they are in a position to make informed decisions and fully understand the risks they are taking by drinking alcohol or taking drugs.”
What Are the Dangers of Alcohol?
Although it is society’s most popular drug, alcohol is far from harmless. As well as the impact it can have on the liver (potentially leading to alcoholic fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis), alcohol is an addictive drug that can cause harm in numerous ways. Binge drinking can lead to accidents and injuries, driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to the death of the drinker and innocent bystanders, and excessive consumption can result in alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. Alcohol is also addictive, trapping people in self-destructive cycles and having notable impacts on their day-to-day functioning, health and relationships with loved ones. Getting this message across to kids is essential, because the legality of alcohol could create a flawed assumption that it is safe to consume.
The Students’ Response to Beer Goggles
Anne Warner, a seventh-grade teacher at the school, praised the workshop: “Our students were enthused by the quality of workshops provided by the safety crew,” Warner said. “They provided sound advice on a number of issues including drugs, alcohol and anti-social behavior.” The response from the students shows the value of devising unique methods of getting the information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol out to young people. Warner believes the workshop taught the children valuable information and helped them to think about the consequences of smoking and drug use.
It seems extremely plausible that the interactive element of this workshop was what really helped the children take in the message. Although a well-conducted talk could clearly get the message across, using techniques like the beer goggles and even the fairly gruesome sight of an alcohol-pickled liver appear to be a useful method for getting children to engage with the messages.
Underage drinking is particularly amenable to the hands-on approach of beer goggles. Awareness-raising groups should take note and try to devise similar methods for reaching children with information on other drugs.