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Underage easily accessing alcohol

ONE weekend as a friend and I walked to office, we came across a group of young boys and girls along a street who at first glance seemed to be taking non-alcoholic drinks from Styrofoam cups which they were pouring from plastic carrier bags.
As we by-passed the young people who were quite noisy, my friend observed the children, who I thought were all teenagers were actually taking alcohol .
That is why they were using the Styrofoam cups to disguise what they were drinking.
My friend explained that the roadside was a meeting point for the teenagers almost every weekend.
They would buy alcohol which they mixed with soft drinks giving the impression they were drinking non-alcoholic beverages.
I was left wondering how the children are able to lay their hands on alcoholic drinks without getting into trouble. I suddenly realised that it is extremely easy to buy alcoholic drinks including those who are underage because makeshift stalls have sprang up almost everywhere where vendors sell various types of alcohol without any restriction.
Sometimes, very early in the morning it is not longer strange to see someone taking an alcoholic drinking instead of a more nutritious beverage to begin the day. I realised this is because alcohol is readily available from day break to late at night.
One is left to wonder what laws exist to regulate the sale of alcohol and to whom. It is this lack of regulation that children are taking advantage of to buy alcohol as and when they want it as long as they have the money to buy. This practice is not only peculiar to Lusaka but it seems to be happening throughout the country.  It seems local authorities have failed to regulate the sale of alcohol by ensuring that it is only sold within stipulated hours, in designated places and to mature customers.
Lusaka City Council public relations manager, Brenda Katongola explained that because of the low staffing levels of council police officers it was very difficult to apprehend bar owners who abrogate the law on trading hours which has been in force since 2012.  It is for the same reason that it has been difficult to control the mushrooming makeshift stalls that are selling alcohol in undesignated areas.  It is from these people that young people are buying alcohol from because there are no questions asked; for the traders, selling to alcohol to young drinkers makes business sense for them. These traders are only interested in making the money, not the long-term damage the product they are selling is causing to their young customers.
Sadly, if this trend of unregulated sale of alcohol is not seriously tackled it will definitely affect derail so many brilliant young people due to its addictive nature. It is a known fact that excessive and underage drinking of can lead to disastrous consequences such as impaired judgement which often leads to risky sexual behaviour which can expose  young people to sexually-transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancies; all which affect the health of the children negatively. Underage drinking can also lead to lack of concentration or low productivity in the school environment as well as bad behaviour.
Much as it is expected that government, local authorities and other stakeholders should control the sale of alcohol especially to young people, the onus lies squarely on the shoulders of parents and guardians to ensure that they keep tabs on their children to ensure that they are not up to any mischief such as drinking and indulging in activities that are likely to mess up their future.
It is extremely important for parents or guardians to lead by example by ensuring that they spend as much time with their children to serve as a positive influence and to nurture the children into responsible adults as they grow up. Children are easily imitate whatever behaviour is exposed to them, hence the need for adults to make time for their children regardless of how busy their no schedule might be to avoid any regret later.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
pchilufya@daily-mail.co.zm; gender@daily-mail.co.zm.

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