Danger: Millions of Kids Exposed to Wine!!

Exclusive The impact of surveys is most often not driven by their content, but rather by the headlines that result.

I was reminded of this today when I saw the following reported in newspapers and across the Internet:

"Over 60% of Kids Exposed To Violence"
"Justice Survey: Majority of Kids Exposed To Violence"
"60% of Kids Exposed to Violence in the Past Year: Justice Department"

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the numerous stories that ran today on this shocking finding about kids' exposure to violence in the United States. But then, when you dig deeper into the survey you find this:

"The Survey's authors defined exposure to violence as being a victim, or having witnessed violence, or learning about violence against a relative or friend, or hearing about a threat to their school or home."

Now, I don't want to minimize violence. Nor do I want to minimize the likely ugly impact exposure to violence has on children. But, "learning about violence against a relative or friend…"?

It got me thinking, if someone decided they wanted to really start a movement against alcohol in America, all they'd have to do is take a survey of kids and ask:

"Have you ever had an alcoholic drink?"
"Have you ever seen a friend have an alcoholic drink?"
"Have you ever heard about a friend or family member having an alcholic drink"?
"Have you ever seen an alcoholic drink?"
"Did you know there are such things as alcoholic drinks?"

Then you'd get this:

"90% of American Kids Effected by Alcohol"
"Most Children Impacted by Alcohol"
"Alcohol Effects Lives of 90% of American Children"

Then the really nasty stuff starts. Probably in the well of a Bible Belt state legislature where Senator Iberight stands up and declares:

"There is a crisis in American and in our own state. That crisis begins and ends with alcohol. We now know that this insidious social ill impacts the lives of more than 90% of our children. We are the children's' caretakers. They are our responsibility. We must put a stop to the devastating impact alcohol is having on our children's lives!"

You may think this is a farce, but reading the headlines of the kids and violence survey I was reminded of this headline that was attached to a press release sent out by the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association in 2006:

Millions of Kids Buy Internet Alcohol, Landmark Survey Reveals

This press release in turn led to news reports with headlines like this:

"Teen Drinking Just a Mouse Click Away"
"Kids Find High Tech, Low Risk Way to Drink"
"Millions of Underage Teens Illegally Buy Alcohol From the Internet"

Now while these claims from Alcohol wholesalers who released the study to try to stop changes in wine shipping laws was ultimately beaten down as bogus, the damage was probably done. It was only a matter of time before Craig Wolf, President of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association sat in front of the California Senate Select Committee on California's Wine Industry and testified:

"A 2006 survey commissioned by WSWA and conducted by respected pollster
Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) – who has been used by the CDC, ONDCP
and the AMA – is consistent with the findings of the NAS and confirms
that a significant number of teens purchase beer, wine and liquor

I personally have had to rebut these claims while giving testimony in front of two different state legislative committees considering direct shipping laws where the bogus "Teenage Research Unlimited" survey was used as a blunt instrument by elected officials that only saw the headlines.

The point, of course, is to be careful just reading headlines, particularly where they report on surveys, "findings", polls and statistics. And for those interested in the vitality of the wine industry, it's important that we simply keep a watch out for misleading statements, headlines and claims concerning alcohol, wine, drinking and marketing practices.

3 Responses

  1. FriedBob - October 8, 2009

    This is EXACTLY what happened with HT 1256, which banned “flavored cigarettes” and more. It was done under the guise of getting kids to stop smoking and used the same misinformation and, in some cases, outright lies that you talk about in this post.

  2. Dylan - October 9, 2009

    I think this might fall into the category of “burying the lead” or would that be “misrepresenting the lead”?

  3. grapemaster - October 12, 2009

    man accused of heinous abuse of steer carcass after cutting into small bits and cruelly throwing it on a fire.

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