Concern over underage alcoholism, public sexual displays

The drastic fall of moral standards in the society appears to be taking a turn for the worse with underage children indulging in alcoholism and sexual escapades in public places. Most of the unwholesome acts, unfortunately, are carried out in the presence of adults who often cheer them on instead of discouraging, them, INNOCENT DURU  reports.

In the good old days when the society placed high premium on decency and morality, this action would have attracted thorough scolding or even flogging from grown up members of the public. But in the modern world where decency and morality are thrown to the winds in the name of entertainment, the underage boy's misdemeanor was greeted with thunderous applause and noisy approval.

The young lad, in a video apparently shot at a party, is seen clutching a bottle of alcoholic drink to his chest while miming the song of a popular hip hop artiste, Techno. With hair tinted gold, earrings in both ears, gold wristwatch on his right hand and a handbag strapped across his shoulder, the dark complexioned boy sipped the drink at intervals, paced around  the dancing ground screaming  "allow me to enjoy myself" as he sang along the Techno song titled 'Enjoy'.

Thunderous applause and deafening cheers reverberated from the crowd comprising adults and younger ones as he sipped the drink, intermittently hit the bottle with his forefinger and artistically gesticulated to the song.

The young boy's public show of indulgence in alcoholism is just one of the numerous videos of underage children consuming and abusing alcohol.

Underage children are barred from consuming alcoholic drinks in the country, but the law appears to be only active on paper. At bars, club houses and social functions, among others, underage children, including females who are generally considered fragile are seen gulping alcohol.

In fact, some parents openly share alcoholic drinks with their children, arguing that it would have no effect on their lives.

In another video that went viral recently, a little boy is seen downing a bottle of beer while the adults present at the event cheered ecstatically.

A Nigerian artiste known as Jumbee was dazed by a recent incident of a 13-year-old boy he saw gulping bottles of beer in a bar. He took to his social media handle, Instagram, to share the disgusting video.

Jumbee said he watched the boy consume four bottles of beer at a go while watching football a match on the television.

According to him, the teenager said he had been going to the bar with his uncle since he was 11 years old.

Jumbee said: "I was in a meeting with friends at a bar in Benue (State) and dis (this) young boy bounced in with so much confidence, sat and ordered for a bottle of beer.

"As an African man that I am, it was difficult for me to ignore because the question I asked myself was what if he was my kid brother.

"Then I asked him how old he was. He smiled and said, 'Brother, why did you ask?' I then replied, saying because you look too young to be here. He then said I am 13 years old, but I've been coming here with my uncle since I was 11.

"In shock, I asked again how he got the money. Then his countenance changed like I was asking too many questions.

"So I walked back to my sit, video taped how he ordered for four more bottles, swinging his legs, watched his match and digested it all with a coke bottle

"Now 'am really getting scared for this generation because we don't pay attention to these kids anymore.

"Parents, please look out for your kids, the friends they keep and the things you do in their presence.

"For the youths our love for money shouldn't make us ignore our morals."

Sometime last year, another disturbing video of underage children who became tipsy after taking alcoholic drink surfaced online.

They were reportedly given a popular alcoholic drink known as "Captain Jack.

"I dey kolo (I'm losing my senses)", one of them screamed as he tried to regain composure alongside his drunk friend.

One unimaginable video that has gone viral in recent times is one in which adults gleefully watched and encouraged male children to grab their female counterparts from their seats and dance with them in a way that suggested they were making love with them from behind.

The offensive video saw girls placing their two hands on the ground while the boys raised their legs up and pushed their manhood repeatedly into their backside as a music lyrics apparently promoted the obscene gesture blasted from the loud speaker.

Some have argued that the video is not Nigerian, but there are fears that similar actions could be copied and practised young Nigerians.

A public health physician, Dr Rotimi Adesanya, said underage children who indulge in alcohol risk suffering myriads of health problems.

He said: "It may affect their coordination. Their vision may be distorted and they may have haring issues. Their judgment may be impaired and they will start talking anyhow.

"For children, they may not have to take much before they start to manifest abnormal behaviour that may lead them to accidents.

"They may also have medical issues which may come after a long time. These include liver damage, because their liver is not so okay.

"They may have stomach problem or memory loss if the alcohol is too much.

They may have problem in the school.

"Some of them may be sexually active earlier. They may start molesting or bullying others. Those are the things that may happen at that age. "

The World Health Organisation defined alcohol as a toxic and psychoactive substance with dependence producing properties. In many of today's societies, alcoholic beverages are a routine part of the social landscape for many in the population.

"This is particularly true for those in social environments with high visibility and societal influence, nationally and internationally, where alcohol frequently accompanies socializing.

"In this context, it is easy to overlook or discount the health and social damage caused or contributed to by drinking."

Alcohol consumption, according to the world health body, contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people.

"Overall, harmful use of alcohol is responsible for 5.1% of the global burden of disease.

"Harmful use of alcohol is accountable for 7.1% and 2.2% of the global burden of disease for males and females respectively.

"Alcohol is the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among those aged 15 to 49 years, accounting for 10 per cent of all deaths in this age group.

"Disadvantaged and especially vulnerable populations have higher rates of alcohol-related death and hospitalization."


Beer sectoral group campaign against underage drinking

The Beer Sectoral Group (BSG) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in collaboration with the Cross River State Ministry of Quality Education launched the SMASHED Project in Calabar recently.

The BSG, which consists of leading beer manufacturers in Nigeria, including Nigerian Breweries Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc and International Breweries Plc, says 'The SMASHED Project' is aimed at breaking the culture of underage drinking and reducing alcohol-related harm among underage persons in Nigeria.

In his address, the Chairman of Beer Sectoral Group, Jordi Borrut Bel, stated that part of the initiative's focus is to help teenagers build confidence in the face of peer pressure as it is considered one of the causes of underage drinking globally.

"The SMASHED Project is a global campaign against underage drinking, aimed at educating and enlightening adolescents on the dangers of underage drinking and ways to prevent and avoid it.

"With this Project, parents are also engaged as this enables them to understand the vulnerability of the teenage years and how to sensitise their children on the dangers of underage drinking.

"This is in addition to being encouraged to help preclude their underage children from consuming alcohol by being better role models and talking to them about how to overcome peer pressure during their formative years," he stated.

Mr. Borrut Bel went on to reiterate BSG's commitment to campaigning against the harmful use of alcohol, saying that its members will continue to enlighten the public on the inimical effects of abuse.

"The campaign against underage drinking is only a part of a broader aspect of the discourse on the harmful use of alcohol, which the BSG and its members continue to advocate against.

"The key notion here is that the dangers associated with alcohol consumption arise from the harmful use of alcohol," he added.

Entertainment industry influencing alcohol consumption, sexual recklessness – Study

Research conducted by academics have shown the relationship between addiction to movies and musical videos and rising cases of indulgence in alcohol and sexual perversion among children.

In their work titled 'Influence of Home Video on Sexuality Aspirations of Secondary School Students in Ibadan, Nigeria" Koblowe Obono and Oka Obono, both of the

University of Ibadan, Ibadan Oyo State, wrote: "Home videos are entertainment media, but their use by adolescents transcends leisure to sexuality aspirations. A survey of 180 students in selected secondary schools in Ibadan showed that viewing influenced their sexuality knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP)."

The paper argues that exposure to home movies affect young people's life aspirations as higher viewership (95.6 per cent) corresponds with high negative sexuality response (93.3 per cent).

Accordingly, the media teach 87 per cent of students about girlfriend/boyfriend relationships, expose 82 per cent to sexual relationships, arouse 85 per cent and encourage premarital sex among 53 per cent students.

"While entertaining, the media provide information that teenagers use to construct their sexuality, having far reaching health implications.

"Home video content and packaging thus place adolescent lives on a reproductive health disaster. This calls for alternative models of entertainment communication as well as critical censorship of home movies to help checkmate worsening sexual and reproductive health conditions in Nigeria."

Also in his work, "Mediating alcohol use in Eastern Nigeria: a qualitative study exploring the role of popular media in young people's recreational drinking" submitted to the Department of Social Sciences, Media and Communications, College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, Brunel University London, Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, London, UK, Emeka W. Dumbili, said: "Alcohol consumption in entertainment television, especially drinking by principal characters in films engenders young people's intention to use alcohol and their onset drinking.

"It also has been found to influence the consumption of larger quantities among those who already consume alcohol. A key reason is that attractive media characters have considerable appeal for young people, serving 'as 'super peers'… and providing models and information about alcohol use that may not be available in peer group or family."

The dearth of research in the Nigerian context is serious because Nollywood (Nigerian movie industry) is not only ranked the third largest movie industry worldwide, it also produces the largest number of films per month (between 200 and 250 films).

Additionally, psychoactive substances are common in Nollywood films.

For example, out of 479 local films Aina and Olorunshola examined, 268 portrayed at least one scene of alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, cocaine or heroin use. Importantly, 197 out of these 268 films depicted alcohol consumption, making it the most-used substance. Therefore, it is possible that those who are exposed to these alcohol depictions may be influenced to consume alcohol.

Although alcohol consumption among young people is culturally taboo in Nigeria, young people in contemporary Nigeria do drink, with many using heavy drinking to 'perform gender' (i.e. to construct/express a range of masculine/feminine identities). There is also evidence of diverse drinking patterns and motives among students in Nigeria and alcohol-related problems such as accidents, mental disorder, anxiety, amongst others, are increasing. But to date, there is no empirical evidence on how the media may be part of these trajectories."