Monday, August 27, 2012

Violence and Alcohol

Violence that comes from drinking too much alcohol is a serious problem for the Korean society. Police departments throughout the country have begun an all out campaign against this type of violence, with teams of officers assigned, as their primary objective, the task of eradicating the violence that often results from drunken behavior.  And there are signs that the effort has been successful: incidents of violence decreased 11.1 percent last year from that of the previous year.

Many people who become violent after drinking alcohol are of course  normal in every other way, some not remembering their violent behavior. The article in the Peace Weekly mentions that the Diocesan Pastoral Committee of Seoul on Addiction, which has studied the problem, considering it a blot on our society, is determined to eliminate it.

The article mentioned an incident, out of many others that probably could have been mentioned, at the recent Olympics in London, where a drunken spectator threw a beer bottle at the runners preparing for the finals in the hundred-yard dash. Fortunately, the bottle did not hit any of the runners. Violence resulting from drunkenness not only is a Korean problem, the article writer wanted to stress, but very obviously is a worldwide problem.

The generally accepted classification of the most common crimes in Korea are: murder, small theft, rape, robbery and violence. From 2001, the number of arrests for these crimes has continued to climb, with the largest number of arrests (63.5 percent) being for violent behavior. In 2010 it decreased to 49.9 percent, but of the five most frequently committed crimes, violence tops the list, and 30 percent of the violence is due to drunken behavior.

The harm done to society because of the misuse of alcohol is staggering, says the writer.  It not only is a big factor in criminal behavior but also in divorce, accidents, suicides, and health related deaths; Korea leads the world in the number of deaths from alcohol-induced liver problems. And the economic loss is enormous. The Health and Human Services Centers for Disease and Prevention has stated that people, in 2010, over 19 years old who were at high risk for drinking was 14.9 percent; in 2011 the percentage went up to 18.2--an increase of 3.3 percent.

The medical profession estimates that over seven million people are addicted to or abuse alcohol. The "drinking culture" of Korea is thought to be a prime contributor to the problem. It's generally accepted that when gong out for the evening, there will be giving and receiving of glasses of liquor, boilermakers and other mixed alcoholic drinks. And doing the town by going to a second and third drinking location is commonplace. For this type of entertainment to change, all of us, drinkers as well as nondrinkers, especially including the courts of law, must cease to tolerate this misuse of alcohol. Without this attitude change, there is not likely to be any lessening of the current alcohol-related violence in our society. 

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