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Boozy girls out of their tiny minds

Scotland’s deadly underage binge-drinking epidemic has seduced a new generation of “pocket-money boozers” – and most of them are Girls.

The shocking news comes in a Scottish Sun investigation which shows 3,799 under-16s were treated in hospital for alcohol-related problems in the last five years – some of them as young as Nine.

And disturbingly, girls are now the biggest victims of drink – with 221 more underage females admitted to the nation’s hospitals than boys.

These booze-addled kids were wheeled in with everything from stomach damage and toxic alcohol poisoning to mental disorders and external injuries.

Last night, anxious politicians and campaigners demanded a major rethink in the nation’s anti-booze war before these kids are lost forever.

Jack Law, head of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Drink is at pocket-money prices. It is so cheap now that it is easily within a young person’s price range.

“But it is also a cultural thing, in this country we drink to get drunk.”

His fears are borne out by our findings, which show hospitals in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area alone dealt with an astonishing 1,568 child cases. The Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill treated 93 under 16s in the last five years – 39 girls and 54 boys.

Of these, nine were under ten, 26 were younger than 12 and 53 were in the under-15 bracket.

Across the city, 846 youngsters were treated for booze problems – 493 girls and 353 boys.

But the picture is just as bad elsewhere.

In Grampian, 285 boozed-up kids were admitted to hospital, with 38 aged under 13. Again, females were the worst offenders – with 151 treated, compared to 134 lads.

Health chiefs in Fife revealed 154 under-16s needed help, including 80 girls and 74 boys.

Tayside could only give figures going back to 2007, but the health board still admitted treating “at least” 91 children, three of whom were under 12.

In Lothian, 121 youngsters were admitted – but again, its incomplete records only went back to 2006.

Mr Law added: “There are big issues about how we educate ourselves, not just children. Children and young people learn to drink alcohol through their parents’ and relatives’ behaviour. And if we as a society drink too much in the home, then children are going to pick up that that is the right thing to do.”

Scottish Tory health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said: “These figures are absolutely appalling. Where are children as young as nine getting alcohol from?

“There are clear laws regarding the consumption of alcohol but quite simply they are not being properly enforced.

“I think the question must be asked why children as young as nine feel they have to get blitzed out of their mind on alcohol as some way of having fun.”

Labour’s Cathy Jamieson said: “These shocking figures demonstrate why we need a national consensus to tackle the hard drinking culture.

“It is shameful that so many children are being admitted to hospital with alcohol-related illnesses. We have put forward the idea of a mandatory Challenge 21 scheme to stop children getting access to booze and Alcohol Treatment and Testing Orders to deal with anti-social behaviour.

“I am disappointed that the Scottish Government has so far failed to bring forward a credible package of proposals.”

But the true scale of the problem could be worse still, because of the way health board figures were disclosed.

Lothian only gave stats going back to 2006 and Tayside had records as far back as 2007.

Some authorities were unable to break their numbers down by sex, meaning there were 1,485 female and 1,264 male cases confirmed out of the total 3,799.

Others left certain details – such as age – deliberately vague to protect the identities of their patients.

Last night a Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are enforcing existing laws to tackle underage drinking and have rolled out test purchasing nationwide to catch rogue retailers.

“Our upcoming Alcohol Bill includes some radical new measures to change our nation’s relationship with drink.

“Minimum pricing will target the ciders and vodkas sold for next to nothing and favoured by underage drinkers.

“And we will place a duty on local licensing boards to consider raising the off-sales purchase age to 21.”

The plans were dealt a hammer blow by a Euro ruling last week which says minimum pricing is illegal. Ms Sturgeon insists that only applies to tobacco.

Last night, an NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: “Our services are targeted at offering a variety of support services to young people identified as having drug and or alcohol problems.”

source: The Sun

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