You find a group of your 16 year old peers drinking. What do you do?

Okay, so it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. This happened to me several years ago, but has been bugging me recently as my views on alcohol have changed since then (from the usually taught “Alcohol is evil until you’re 21.” to “Alcohol can be fine when you’re younger as long as you’re responsible.”), so I often find myself thinking about it, wondering what I’d do in a similar position now.

To explain the situation: My mother organizes and runs an exchange between my old high school and several schools in England each year, and the year in question I was a part of it. There is usually a goodbye party sort of thing, hosted at a student’s house, chaperoned by the parents. My mother dropped me off, and the teachers from both schools went to have dinner at another teacher’s house.

It was an hour or two into the party when I got there, so I found the other students out in a field around a giant bonfire, away from the house and parents, all of them at least partially drunk. This was the first time I’d really ever seen drunk people. I was uncomfortable and scared, so I walked back towards the house (Note: these were not people I was particularly friendly with, and were known for being irresponsible). I noticed a guy and girl were following me. I ran, getting even more scared. They caught up and begged me not to tell anyone.

I agreed (just to get them to leave me alone), and went into the house and asked to call my mom. I told her there were people drinking and so I wanted to leave. Somehow, I forget exactly, the parents “chaperoning” got on the phone with my mom. They went out to take a look, came back, and proceeded to tell my mom there was no alcohol there, and did everything including implying that I was the one under the influence!! :mad:

So I was pissed - I just wanted to leave, not sit in a kitchen with adults who were annoyed that I’d just gotten them, their child, and her friends in trouble. Because this was a semi-school-related event, and my mother technically had some responsibility, she went out to see what was going on. While they had managed to throw most of the beer bottles in the bushes, she did find a few, and she figured out pretty quickly what was going on (i.e., I was not making things up).

None of the students really got in a lot of trouble in the long run (nothing legal, no suspensions, etc.), though I’m sure they didn’t think much of me afterwards. As I understand it, parents were called and students had to write letters of apology to teachers/adults. So I never felt terribly bad, because I felt they were stupid to drink at a non-private party (it turns out other classmates who had been there eariler left when they found out there was alcohol - I just got dropped off after they had left). All I did was call my mom to pick me up - and gave her a reason for wanting to leave (one important enough for her to leave a dinner). My reaction was more of a “Mom, they’re drinking, please come get me.” rather than an “Oooh, you’re drinking, I’m gonna tell!” type thing.

I think I feel that while I’ve realized that alcohol isn’t inherently evil, these people still shouldn’t have been drinking in this situation, and what I did was reasonable. But I still second guess myself three years later (especially now that I am in a position to drink illegally), so I’m curious, how would other people have dealt with this? Similarly? Hope they got in more trouble? Leave and try not to let anyone know?

I think you did the right thing. As you pointed out, you weren’t trying to be a tattletale, but you were uncomfortable and wanted out of the situation. Very mature of you.

Report them to authorities if applicable.

I can proudly say that I never had any peers who drank though.

Any body who was stupid enough to waste their time / money on alchohal while under age wasn’t a ‘peer’ of mine.

Problem with lecturing drunks is that they tend not to care what you say. :frowning: Makes making them feel guilty kind of hard, heh.

Bunch of high school kids getting drunk in a field . . . I think I’d just hang around and make sure no one was getting sick or starting to act dangerously. That is, if I were a member of their peer group, not someone ostensibly responsible for them. The chaperone did not handle things well. Still, in retrospect, don’t you think you may have over reacted? Not to blame you, you were sixteen in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation.

I really don’t see much wrong with 16 year olds experimenting with alcohol (maybe I’ll feel differently when I’m a parent). If they were doing something really self-destructive, like snorting coke or watching Freddie Prinze Jr. movies, I might be tempted to intervene.

Oh, and Com2Kid , what is up with you? Between this post and your pit-thread about killing all drug-users, you seem to have a fairly, uh, hard-line agenda. Lighten up a little, kay?

Out of curiosity, in the US, is it very uncommon to have parties where underagers drink? I’d always gotten the impression (cough from TV shows cough) that underage drinking was ubiquitous over there, but the OP’s response to that situation makes me think that perhaps it isn’t.

It’s fairly common over here, so that’s definitely going to affect my response. But personally, I would have just left it. If I’d felt uncomfortable, I would have rung my parents without mentioning the alcohol (although that would depend - would your mother have gotten into a lot of trouble?) and just left it at that. But I don’t think your response was unreasonable; IMO you overreacted a little, but we all tend to do that in strange situations. :slight_smile:

It very common over here aswell. On Halloween there are lots of youngsters drinking around bonfires.

I drank in fields when I was young so I’d probably have joined them :wink:

Anyhoo different cultures, people etc.

Another vote for “horses for courses”.

As yojimbo said, ditch drinking is very common amongst teenagers in Ireland. When we were young, our local park, Belgrave Square, was known as The Belgrave Inn.

Still, there’s no way I’d have grassed on them;).

In England, it’s very common too. At 16 me and all my peers used to get a bottle of Martini or a litre of cider each every Friday night in a park, and cane it before our parents came to pick us up at 11.

However, if you’re from an upbringing where you’ve been taught that alcohol is the water of the devil, I can understand why you would have (over)reacted the way you did.

You did what you were comfortable with, and that is fine. I hung out with wild partiers, though I was content to be wild without chemical help, but all of us knew that we were ultimately responcible for our own actions. If one was doing something illegal and they got caught…that’s the price of doing business. against the law is against the law and that is just how things are, like all things in life there is an associated risk…the risk gets higher when you’re doing something illegal.

They took the risk and lost.

In my own youth (ha!) I was well aware that just being there could get me into trouble, regardless of what was or wasn’t in my system. My parents and I discussed what I felt were reasonable precautions, and while I pretty much got final say on if I went to a specific party or not, I knew their policy of not paying bail. everyone makes their own choices, and gets to live with the results.

Here in Guatemala, most parents, even American ones, know that their children drink and don’t seem to mind. In fact, I know a father who often gets drunk with his teenaged son. And no, he is not an alcoholic, but in fact leads a regular lifestyle and maintains a respectable job as an anthropologist.

Don’t take this the wrong way but i think you might’ve led a very sheltered adolescence. Teenage drinking is extremely common and it’s not anything too shocking. It’s not like they’re smoking crack and planning their next assault on a rival gang…

Com2Kid does drinking “alchohal” every once in a whlie make you a drunk?

I might’ve bummed a couple of beers, but I don’t think you did anything wrong.

At 16, I hadn’t been around tons of drunk people and I had never drank anything without my parents’ express permission, but I had some exposure to people drinking. If I were in a similar situation at that age, I wouldn’t have joined in, but I would have hung around for a while, assuming that no one was doing anything dangerous. If I headed back to the house, it would have been because I was bored with drunks, not afraid of them.

Odd. At 16 I was one of those partiers. Hell, I was one at 14 (although close to my 15th birthday - not that that makes much difference). I was also hopping bars at that age. Although in Quebec, the drinking age is 18, so its a bit of a smaller difference than if it were 21.

I do know people who weren’t comfortable in that situation, though, but it was never “told” to adults, although usually everyones parents were aware, or at least pretty damn certain that people were drinking.

I can only tell you what I did. My son and a young woman who lives a few doors down and another young male were drinking on our front verandah (I didn’t find this out until later, they were sharing a bottle of “soft-drink” at the time as far as I knew").

The next morning I found out that there had been more than soft drink in that bottle and I ripped my son a new one. His excuses that he “walked her home and made sure she was OK” didn’t count because her own parents weren’t aware that she had been drinking and therefore had no reason to keep an extra eye on her that night. If she’d decided to go out half-cut that night and something bad had happened to her, it would have taken me a long time to forgive my son - not for the drinking, but for the not ensuring that everyone involved was safe.

There are some circumstances in which I believe safety should over-ride the law. I’ve personally taken people’s car-keys off them and I’ve had stand up arguments with kids who aren’t mine about them going ANYWHERE while they are enebriated. I’ve now developed a stock response. You either stay here, or I arrange getting you home safely, or I’ll call the police and you can talk to THEM about who supplied you with alcohol (providing alcohol to people under 18 carries MAJOR fines here).

More than once I’ve contacted parents of drunk kids to let them know their kids are staying at our house tonight - I pretty much leave it up to the KIDS to explain to their parents why and I don’t comment on their children’s state of intoxication unless I’m asked (and I refuse to lie for them either).

And I’m just viscious enough to take great delight in watching them squirm the next morning when I give them THE lecture while they are still hungover…

Don’t beat yourself up. Your young self was neither a puritan not a squeal. You just plain didn’t have a lot of experience–or options, for that matter. It was a complex situation and those around you muffed it.

The drinking was illegal. First fact. For the drinkers and the “responsible” adults covering it up. Forget debates, dat was da law. Laws–debatable or not–carry consequences. Idiots forget that.

Second fact: with no wish to be Carrie Nation, you simply weren’t comfortable being there, and had no of quietly leaving without offering some sort of explanation/justification for needing an inconvenient ride.

Third fact: no matter one’s opinion on drinking laws, the “responsible” adults maligned a scared kid to cover their own behavior. That’s what I find unforgiveable.

With years (one hopes) comes savvy, if not wisdom. There should have been a responsible adult who could have seen your discomfort and offered you–and everyone else–a way out. Basic humanity, not to mention common sense, throws responsibility onto a host to get a distressed under-age guest home. The damage control was on their shoulders, not yours. Theirs was the risk and the responsibility.

I quaffed many a beer before I was 21. My choice all the way, enjoyed the hell outta them and was lucky in my friends: kind, funny folks who let me find my own limits w/o prejudice. (Lawbreakers, all of us.) You were just much less lucky in those who shoulda known better.


I was brought up in a household that had no alcohol and did not see either of my parents drink until I was 21. That did not stop me from drinking at 14 or 15. I think it is a judgment call as an individual. While I hardly ever turned one down, I would never try to pressure someone whom wasn’t comfortable. As to whether you did the right thing, or over reacted that is subjective and only you can know for yourself. Cheers to you… in five years. :smiley:

I rather like the bonfire parties. I’m not one to go get myself totally wasted, but I might have a beer or two if I can. If not, oh well! Actually, only about half of the people are drinking anyway. The rest are just hanging out with their friends, sitting on truck beds listening to music. Most of my friends don’t drink.

Thats how it is where I live, anyway.

derTintenfisch: I would have had a swig or two, though if you found the people to be jerks, I can understand why you would walk away.

Kayeby: Hell yes, underage drinking is common in the States. I was going into bars when I was 18 and this is in a state where the legal limit has always been 21. (It helps having a beard.)

Com2Kid: Tell me, does your back ever feel the strain of carrying that tremendous load of self-righteousness?

I think you might have overreacted, like running from stray dogs and bears if you run you’ll get chased downed and mauled. Next time you’re facing a hostile drunk crowd back away slowly.

There is a time and place for everything.

When the time is “being an older teenager” and the place is “a field at night, sitting around a bonfire”, well, that time and place is for drinking.

I think you overreacted a tad, as well, but I must be reading a different OP, because I don’t see anything about the drunk crowd being hostile. Comparing tipsy teens around a fire to a pack of feral dogs seems a little…issued, and that observation is from a confirmed misanthropist.