Responding to Teenage Binge Drinking: Recognising Differential Gender Perception or Respecting Equality?

Alex Newbury, Gavin Dingwall

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


    This chapter poses a vital question of policy prioritisation in the context of the UK’s high levels of teenage binge drinking and the associated individual and societal harms. It examines the perceptions of young people towards alcohol, binge drinking and drunkenness, and discusses findings from the authors’ research that young peoples’ attitudes and responses to their own offending and drunken behaviour can be differentiated largely along gender lines. This finding suggests that a gender-specific policy response could be adopted to take account of these potential differences, and the chapter concludes by proposing some practical examples. In doing so, the chapter will also address whether a gender-specific educational or criminal justice response has the potential to compromise equality and will offer more nuanced approaches focussing on individual personality types.

    Highlighting gender as a key potential difference is an interesting counterpoint, and challenge, when considering equality as a human right. A general demand for equality (equating to everyone being treated the same, as equals) has to be balanced against a need for recognition of the potential diversity along gender lines in perceptions that young people themselves have regarding their behaviour, and their recognition of the impact of alcohol and binge drinking in relation to this behaviour and its outcomes. This could be framed as recognising the difference between equality of opportunity as opposed to the potential differential in equality of outcomes. Although an uncritical splitting of approach along gender lines would be too blunt, the empirical findings discussed - both from the authors’ study and from other existing research - does point to broad differences, whether these are endemic or societally imposed, between gender perceptions and reactions towards alcohol. It would therefore follow that different approaches to education would be beneficial in tackling issues around teenage binge drinking, both with regard to personal harms and to the prevention of societal harms associated with drunken behaviour and offending.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationContemporary Issues in Human Rights Law
    EditorsClaire-Michelle Smyth, Jack Clayton Thompson
    Place of PublicationCambridge
    PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Print)9781527547421
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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