Children trained to binge drink
In some Danish nightclubs, children as young as ten years old are cheered on as they have juice poured down their throats out of liquor bottles.
Others compete to see who can finish their drink quickest by sucking through a large straw.
The scenes occur as part of some nightspot's 'Young Club' promotions that invite children aged 10-15 into the night clubs and provide activities that critics say promote dangerous binge drinking.
Children's minister: "Completely wrong"
After metroxpress newspaper reported on the 'Young Club' phenomenon on Thursday, the children's minister strongly condemned the trend.
"It sounds completely wrong that children would party like that," Annette Vilhelmsen (Socialistisk Folkeparti) told metroxpress. "There is no reason to teach children to drink in the manner that is apparently happening [in the clubs]."
Metroxpress reported that the children's drinking games take place at Discotheque One in the central Jutland town of Hammel and at Dampmøllen nightclub in the northern Jutland town of Thisted.
Nightclubs say it's a good way to attract future customers
Although the events are technically alcohol-free – the liquor bottles used in the drinking games contain soft drinks and juice – the 'Young Clubs' are seen as callously and dangerously training young children to grow up into binge drinkers who will frequent the same establishments when they are of age and indulge in the same risky behavior with the real stuff.
"It is disgusting," said Ejvind Sandal, who heads the board that oversees alcohol advertisements, and who is also the publisher of The Copenhagen Post. "Children should not be trained for boozing with these games, especially not in an alcohol-rich environment where the staff pretends that juice is alcohol. This is marketing alcohol to children, and that is forbidden."
Claus Møller of the Dampmøllen nightclub admitted that the events were meant to attract future customers.
"Our 'soft drink' discos are a good way to show off our establishments before the children become old enough to go out on the town," he told metroxpress.
That remark was characterized as "cynical" by Johan Damgaard, the head of the alcohol awareness society Alkohol & Samfund.
Vilhelmsen told metroxpress that she hoped the establishments would take it upon themselves to stop holding 'Youth Club' events.