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Radical Schooling: German Teens Drink Alcohol to Understand Its Effects

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A German professor has defended the national school initiative “Better Smart Than Drunk,” which offers the nation’s teenagers the opportunity to drink alcohol in a controlled setting to learn about its effect.

The professor behind the project, Johannes Lindenmeyer, recently detailed to the DPA news agency that the initiative is ‘not trying to encourage' anyone to drink. Rather, it is intended to educate teenagers on the effects of alcohol. 

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"Eighty-five percent of the adult population drinks regularly, and we have to assume that most young people will sooner or later drink alcohol as well," Lindenmeyer told DPA news.

The initiative — implemented in 2008 — for the first time came under scrutiny after the mother of a 15-year-old teen in the German northeastern state of Brandenburg saw the consent slip form to be signed by parents and complained, the Nordkurier newspaper reported.

Under the initiative, teenagers — with consent from their parents — drink alcohol at school under the supervision of their teachers and then record how they feel. Parents must specify how much alcohol their child is allowed to consume over the course of the lesson.

According to Lindenmeyer, the recent complaint over the project is the first to have been made since the initiative's inception.

The German Health Ministry claims that some 15 percent of boys and nine percent of girls between the ages of 15-16 drink alcohol at least once a week. In addition, the average age at which Brandenburg teenagers get drunk for the first time is 14.

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