LONDON, April 26, 2011 ( – A report by the left-leaning UK think tank Demos has found that the culture of “binge drinking” among young women in the UK is the worst in the western world. The report suggests that the high rate of drinking has contributed to Britain’s extremely high rates of sexual activity outside marriage and consequent unintended pregnancies.

The percentage of British 16- to 24-year-old women who admit to binge drinking – defined as at least six drinks in succession – has risen from 17 percent to 27 percent in the past ten years.

“British teenage girls experience worse rates of binge drinking, worse levels of physical inactivity and more frequent incidences of teen pregnancy than their European counterparts,” said the report.

According to the report, “more than one in ten (11per cent) [of teens] said they had had sex without a condom and the same proportion (11 per cent) said they had sex they later regretted,” while drunk.

Government ministers commenting on the report’s findings pointed out that the time period of the increase directly coincided with the relaxation of licensing laws by the Tony Blair Labour government. Many in Britain have decried the 24-hour drinking culture that, some say, has contributed to the rise in the crime rate and social disorder.

The report, titled “Through the Looking Glass: Teenage girls’ self esteem is more than skin deep,” also found that teenage girls in Britain are significantly less happy than their male counterparts. “Twice as many teenage girls as teenage boys suffer from ‘teen angst’,” the report said. 

It referenced several previous studies by various sources focusing on “the impact of the commercial world on children’s wellbeing … on the sexualisation of young people … on child safety in a digital world … and on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood.”

Teenage girls are less happy than they were last year, and that unhappiness increases in the lower socioeconomic levels. The study showed that teenage girls “choose to spend time with friends rather than with family” and that they “value the phone in their bag and the computers in their room more than anything else.”

The UK is ranked at the bottom of Unicef’s global index of young people’s “sense of wellbeing.” The report said that although UK teens “might seem happy, there are strong grounds to judge them as the least happy teenagers in the developed world.”

A significantly higher proportion of female respondents than male respondents also said they worried about their future employment and felt ‘stressed always,’ with their happiness declining as they get older.

To help, the Demos report recommended further government intervention in family life, including the “Sure Start” social work programs for pre-school age children, based on “the principle of progressive universalism” for the welfare state.

“The last Labour Government (1997–2010) was highly active in developing and discussing an interventionist youth policy … ministers were clear that the state had an active role to play in providing services and ensuring appropriate interventions when the parenting of children went wrong,” said the report.


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