Mixed up

You might sometimes wonder if our cabinet ministers were ever teenagers or just moved from childhood to adulthood and missed out on those in-between years.

They certainly seem to have a rather odd approach to youth. Hanging around being bored on street corners – something teenagers have always done – is now tantamount to being a criminal offence, such is the hysteria that has been generated about hangjongeren.
And as for hanging around on the street with a can of beer hidden in your coat pocket: if you live in the wrong part of the country, you may well end up being fined – thanks to the cabinet’s latest brainwave.
Home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst is giving local councils the power to decide how they want to tackle the ‘problem’ of teenage drinking. This means that in some places the legal age for drinking beer will be raised to 18, promoting a nice line in alcohol tourism over the border.
As experts in teenage behaviour say, you have to establish rules and stick to them. What sort of a message does it send out to say, for example, that in Grotebroek you can have a beer at the age of 16 but in nearby Enkhuizen, you can’t.
No wonder police arrest figures are up. If the government goes on like this, everyone under the age of 18 will have a criminal record.

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