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 ISBNChapter


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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    Newbury, A., & Dingwall, G. (2020). Responding to Teenage Binge Drinking: Recognising Differential Gender Perception or Respecting Equality? In C-M. Smyth, & J. C. Thompson (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Human Rights Law Cambridge Scholars Publishing.