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20 social integration or just a part of growing up. It is quite natural for young people to try out a wide range of practices they see in the adult culture, habits which they may later more permanently adapt. In some countries certain drinking rituals and traditions linked to key events in young people’s – and student – lives play an increasingly important role in drinking initiation. Such events include the conclusion (and successful completion) of college exams, freshmen week, spring break, and even graduation. Ritual, traditional consumption Alcohol has been used since time immemorial. Its original uses were often part of religious or cultural rituals in tribal communities. Children and youth also participated in those rituals and traditions. In most cultures the drinking in such settings was normally strictly regulated by tribal norms and restricted to limited occasions and/or times of the year, such as the celebration of a harvest or successful hunt. Those

constraints would effectively limit the potential overall negative consequences of drinking to intoxication. Such drinking rituals and restraints still exist, but they are not of particular importance on the global scene today. Marginalized children and youth Harmful use of legal and illegal substances is often an integral part of life for marginalised adolescents such as street children. For such groups harm from the use of alcohol, solvents or drugs exacerbates the generally unhealthy living conditions they endure. Substance use adds to the misery of poor nutrition and personal hygiene, poor housing, lack of health care services, among other problems. Research and anecdotal evidence from many countries point to this serious concern. A study (Dithal, 2002) conducted by the NGO “Child Workers in Nepal” (CWIN) estimated that there are more than 5,000 street children in Nepal, and pointed to dysfunctional families as the main reason those children live on the

FORUT  

Childhood matters

FORUT  

Childhood matters

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