Friday, October 8, 2010

A Solution to Underage Drinking?

It was a Saturday night in Bolivia and some local friends took me dancing. We were wandering around the streets looking for a place to go when I witnessed a truck full of army soldiers roll up to the club, out of which poured more than a dozen soldiers. Several marched directly into the club, while the rest blockaded the entrance. 20 minutes later, soldiers left the establishment escorting a number of teenage males. “What’s going on?” I asked my friends. They replied that those teenagers were minors and the army was taking them to jail for the night. That seemed ironic given that the soldiers themselves only looked to be around 18-19-years old. “The army? Isn’t that a bit extreme?” They explained that military service in Bolivia is obligatory from the age of 18 onwards. 16- and 17-year olds are mandated to join the pre-military, but many don’t because of the high cost of enlisting. “What will happen to them?” “They’ll stay in prison for the night and in the morning their parents will be notified.” Wow. If I was a 16-year old boy and a dozen soldiers yanked me out of a club, I’d be scared shitless. I’d never drink again until I was of age. Extreme or appropriate solution?

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