September 3, 2009

Underage Drinking Highest Among Teenage Girls In UK

An international study has found that teenage girls in the UK are the most likely to engage in underage drinking than their counterparts in other countries.

According to the report issued by the Organization For Economic Co-Operation And Development (OECD), one third of 13- to 15-year-olds in the UK admitted to being drunk at least twice.

Also, the "Doing Better For Children" report noted that 15-year-old girls are more likely to get drunk than their male peers.

The BBC reported that the OECD ranked the UK as the highest among 24 countries in terms of drunkenness. This estimate is derived from the rate of 13 and 15-year-olds admitting to having been drunk at least twice.

"The difference in the UK is the high level of risk taking," said report co-author, Dominic Richardson.

Additionally, the report found that the US spends $20,000 on children under the age of 6, which falls below the OECD's $30,000 average spending mark.

"A better balance of spending between the "Dora the Explorer" years of early childhood and the teenage "Facebook" years would help improve the health, education and well-being of all children in the long term," the OECD said in a statement.

The OECD recommends that countries should provide financial incentives, such as cash payments or food vouchers, to high-risk pregnant women, citing the Hungarian birth grant, which is given to expectant mothers that have at least four pre-natal health checks.

"Most OECD countries concentrate child spending in compulsory education. But often, school systems are not designed to address the problems of disadvantaged children," according to the report. "More of this money should be spent on helping less advantaged students within schools, through mentoring and out-of-school programs, to improve behavior and educational attainment."

"The crisis is putting pressure on public budgets across the world. But any short-term savings on spending on children's education and health would have major long-term costs for society," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

"Governments should instead seize this opportunity to get better value from their investment in children. And spending early, when the foundations for a child's future are laid, is key especially for disadvantaged children and can help them break out of a family cycle of poverty and social exclusion."


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