Zero Tolerance Lookss Like the Safest Option

In an editorial ‘When zero tolerance looks like the safest option’ published in ‘The Age’ on November 1, 2009, the editor seeks to persuade the reader that parents are largely responsible for their children’s relationship with alcohol and that we as a society need to reassess our attitude towards alcohol.   In a careful and reasoned tone, the editor intends to make parents more aware and careful when it comes to their children and alcohol.
Before any reading commences, the reader is immediately struck with an image of a young girl drinking alcohol.   The image appears to be of a young girl merely having an occasional drink; however the empty bottles in the background suggest that what began as an occasional drink has turned into a dangerous consumption of alcohol.   This is intended to scare parents about the consequences of allowing ‘their teenagers an occasional drink’.   Parents are therefore positioned to agree with the editor’s main contention.
Through the use of language, the editor tries to position the reader to consider the notion by not sounding dogmatic and forceful.   The title ‘When zero tolerance looks like the safest option’ avoids the use of strong language in order not to alienate or alarm the reader.   The headlines use of the phrase ‘looks like’ makes the reader feel that the information being presented is not definite, thus positioning the reader to merely consider the argument rather than being pushed to do so.
The editorial makes use of research from the ‘National Health and Medical Research Council’ claiming that ‘parents and carers should be advised that children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking’ and that teenagers should ‘delay the initiation of drinking for as long as possible'.   The threat is intended to shock parents and make them feel worried about their children as they are at the ‘greatest risk’ of damage from alcohol.   The council’s advice that teenagers should prolong drinking for as ‘long as...