Experiment at the Brandenburg School: Ninth graders are supposed to drink beer - under supervision

In a school in the Uckermark young people should learn how to handle alcohol by drinking it - with their teachers. The planned experiment causes outrage among parents. What do experts say about that?

They should drink alcohol together. After class, outside the school. This is the task that ninth graders should get in Templin, Brandenburg, when they participate in a project. This is funded by the Ministry of Health of the Federal State and various health insurance companies.

It is the task that causes some parents just horror - while initiators and supporters of the project explain again and again how meaningful it is.

The project in question is called "Better smart than blue" and is aimed at young people in the ninth and tenth grades who go to school in Brandenburg. Since 2011, it has been carried out by an addiction prevention agency that belongs to a clinic in the Brandenburg town of Lindow.

If the project takes place at a school in the state, it works like this: Specialists in addiction prevention inform parents about the alcohol consumption of adolescents in a specially organized event. What can happen when young people drink high percentage? How can you sensitize them for a conscious handling of the intoxication?

A maximum of four bottles of beer per person

Then, a questionnaire is distributed to the parents: they can, with a few days' reflection, vote on whether their daughter or son is allowed to try alcohol in a protected environment. If the majority of parents are in favor, students, teachers and addiction prevention professionals meet outside the school, for example in the youth center. There is then served alcohol. An individual may drink a maximum of four bottles of beer (0.33 liters) or four small glasses of wine or sparkling wine (0.125 liters). Participants may only participate if they are at least 15 years old and can be picked up by a parent.

Later that afternoon and in subsequent lessons, the experience is then evaluated: the students evaluate themselves and others, wondering what the drinks did to them. They should tell: Did they talk differently under the influence of alcohol, felt differently?

This year, the project will also take place at the secondary school in Templin. But before that can happen, there is a lot of criticism.

Some parents and grandparents were outraged, reports the "Nordkurier". A mother turned to the local newspaper. "First we should educate our children about the damage caused by alcohol and drugs - and now they are being offered alcohol by teachers at school," said the mother of the newspaper.

Several media then also reported on the Templiner school, including the "image". Headline: "Students should learn to drink at school". The school management itself does not want to comment publicly and refers to the Ministry of Education. But even the spokesman for the agency does not want to comment on the project to SPIEGEL.

No pointless drinking

The experts from the state office for addiction issues, meanwhile, have trouble understanding the excitement. "Of course, it's not about students being drunk senseless," says Andrea Hardeling of the Brandenburg State Office for Addiction Issues. The drinking is embedded in extensive prevention work, there are teaching materials. The project was also approved by the Ministry of Education. In addition, no schnapps would be enough. "No one is forced to drink alcohol, even though he does not want that," says Hardeling.

For seven years the project has been running in schools. In the past three years, seven classes have participated. In the meantime there had been inquiries from other states that wanted to take over the project, says Andrea Hardeling.

The idea for the experiment came at a time when the term "coma drinking" dominated public debates. The number of under-20s who entered clinics after alcohol excesses was at a peak. In 2012, shortly after the project "Lieber schlau als blau" was launched, 26,673 children and adolescents between the ages of ten and 19 were admitted into drinking clinics in Germany after drinking excesses. That was more than ever before since statistics began in 2000, reported the Federal Statistical Office.

In the course of the following years, the numbers went back down: in 2017, there were 21,721 adolescents, who had to be treated because of a complete noise in the hospital. The problem is still great, the Federal Drug Commissioner calls repeatedly better protection.

Loss of control never occurred

The Brandenburg project is to offer it: "It allows young people to deal with the dangers of alcohol without it being dangerous," says Hardeling. It was a good thing for the participants that not only authority figures were involved in the experiment - but the young people were also among themselves and discuss what experiences they had already made.

In any case, the project is more aimed at schools that have noticed that alcohol is a topic among the students, says Hardeling. "In no case would I do it in a class no one has ever drank before." Rather, it's about comparing good and less good experiences.

Parents are still upset. Hardeling calms down: No adolescent ever lost control during the project. No "drinking", but the opposite: parents, teachers, students had together with questions about consumption and addiction dealt with.

So will the Templin High School carry out the project after all? A question that may even be of concern to those responsible. Neither the school nor the Brandenburg Ministry of Education wanted to answer.

ref: spiegel