"At 13 and 14 they are children": The pandemic lowers the age in the bottles

“They are getting younger and younger, boys and girls in many cases, barely 13, 14 or 15 years old, who buy alcohol where they can, who gather with their friends around a speaker to listen to music and drink, trying to do something that it does not correspond to his age. “

This is what Daniel Redondo, a 33-year-old municipal police officer attached to the Integral Unit of the Chamartín District in Madrid, sees every weekend when he infiltrates thousands of these young people in plain clothes in a Madrid park.

The pandemic has lowered the age of those who end up drinking at dawn in a park. This is what most catches the attention of Daniel, or Joaquín Íñiguez, a unitmate who at 44 years of age and as a father, cannot help but imagine that they are the same age as his children, because “at 13 and 14 years old for me they are kids”.

Most parents “are not aware” that their children are going to a park to drink bottles, or even that they are in Madrid “and they end up finding out when they are called to tell them that their child is not fit to get home.” I can understand, says Joaquín, that there are specific cases in which children have even been able to escape from home, or that parents think they are in one place and they are in another, but we speak of thousands, and that is why we insist: parents They have to try to control that. “

The problem is that “they have not experienced it, they have not gone out for a long time and now they want to catch up with older people and live a stage that does not correspond to them.”

Playing cat and mouse with social networks

But in this equation, a very powerful and determining variable has been introduced: social networks. The power to summon thousands of people, at a specific point, at a specific time and move them based on the police operations that are mounted.

They know them, and that is why they are monitored and preventive operations are mounted, but it ends up looking like the game of cat and mouse. The calls change with the same speed by WhatsApp, Instagram or Twitter.

Eva Peñafiel, doctor in psychopedagogy, social educator and professor at the Cardenal Cisneros University Center believes that during the pandemic they have gone from being children to adolescents and it is a vital moment in which they need to have a relationship with their peers. Now “they do not find spaces where they can share, see each other’s faces, and the bottle is the solution they have found to these limitations”.

The convening power of social networks that reaches thousands of people is decisive at this time, because the phenomenon of the bottle is not new. They have gone from staying with more or less reduced groups of friends in the neighborhood, to mass gatherings that vary depending on the police presence.

But that “massive” call is according to Peñafiel the solution they have found to shield themselves from the police. “If I get together in the park with six friends, the police will probably fine me and kick me out, if there are 2,000 of us they won’t be able to move me from there.”

He does not believe that bad weather is the solution to this problem because “it will only serve to move it around or create new ones.” “There is a lack of alternatives to” offer that can be related to healthier leisure and that is not linked to consumption. “Their purchasing power is not that of an adult,” if the adult has it. “

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