Girls and boys driven to bottle by boredom

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The Independent Online

Claire, 16, says that in her hometown of St Albans, drinking is a way of life for many of her contemporaries because of the lax attitudes of those who serve alcohol. Although the problem may be traditionally associated with teenage boys, there is just as much if not more pressure for girls.

"At my school some of them go out every night to the pub, not necessarily to get completely drunk. They have no problem in walking up and getting served."

"There are definitely certain pubs with a reputation and you'll get served. People just aren't bothered about age. Some pubs do have bouncers, but it's easy to get in past them.

"It doesn't even seem to matter how old you look," she added. "I don't think that I look 18 but I haven't had much of a problem. I've got a friend who's really short - and she gets in."

Off-licences are similar. "Again there's just some who don't bother about age at all, and everyone knows which ones they are." Claire thinks there is more pressure for girls because "they look older sooner. It is easier for them to get into pubs".

The favourite drinks for under-age drinkers tend to be strong ciders, which get you drunk quickly, but some girls will drink wine and "quite a few girls like their beer".

"There's one girl I know who hangs out with really hard types.One time she got so drunk that they had to call an ambulance and they were in quite a bit of trouble with the ambulance crew and their parents, once they got to the hospital."

"I think it would be definitely easy for some people to get addicted, particularly with the pressure you're under in sixth form."

The problem as Claire sees it is there is no real alternative amusement for older teenagers. "There's little else to do other than go to the pub."