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 43 Percent of Teens Drink Alcohol

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YOU DON'T have to go far to find them. Park benches, street corners, anywhere with a little shelter from the Scottish elements is usually a good bet. You'll find them talking and laughing, some of them smoking cigarettes, as they pass a large plastic bottle around. Meet Scotland's new generation of teenage drinkers.

Ask anyone from a Scottish town and they'll be able to name at least one haunt where teens hang out on a Friday or a Saturday night, knocking back bottles of cheap cider. They have become as ubiquitous a symbol of small-town life as a war memorial or a tea room with tartan tablecloths. And the problem is just as pronounced in the big cities, where ever-increasing numbers of teenage gangs roam the streets consuming large amounts of alcohol.

If this sounds far-fetched, it isn't. A recent World Health Organisation survey found that 43 per cent of Scottish teenagers aged 15 years old drink alcohol at least once a week, one of the highest percentages in Europe. Official figures from the Scottish Executive reveal that 1,113 children under the age of 18 were admitted to hospital between April 2004 and March 2005 with alcohol-related problems, while figures from the country's 15 health boards showed that at least 500 children had treatment for alcohol addiction during the same period.

It is now estimated that the amount of alcohol consumed by people under the age of 16 has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Things are getting out of control.


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