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Alcohol ban on scout camps in Walloon municipalities sparks wider youth drinking debate
Three municipalities in the province of Luxembourg (Florenville, Chiny and Bouillon) and one in the province of Namur (Andenne) have decided to ban the presence of alcohol in youth camps this summer.
While the measure is aimed at clamping down on more serious cases, it has sparked a debate among youth leaders ahead of some 1,350 camps taking place in 231 municipalities across the country this season, reports RTBF.
Flemish youth minister Benjamin Dalle took to twitter on Sunday to voice his opinion on the decision.
"This ban is not necessary: talk to each other, make agreements. So these kind of disproportionate rules are not necessary. Our youth movements should not be targeted. It's a real shame," he wrote.
According to Dalle, such a decision unnecessarily stigmatises the youth movements and makes them look "like irresponsible people".
He also said that the Federation of Scouts of Belgium would prefer to raise awareness among scout leaders rather than issuing bans that would be difficult to enforce.
Adrien Mogenet, spokesman for the Federation of Scouts of Belgium, speaking on La Premiere on Tuesday, said he understood the decision but considered the problem was retricted to isolated cases.
Acohol a problem concerning "the whole of society"
"It stigmatises youth movements, which are only one element of the equation," he added, pointing out that the problem with alcohol was a broader one that concerned the whole of society.
According to Wallonia-Brussels Federation minister president Pierre-Yves Jeholet, banning alcohol amounted to “gratuitous demagoguery”.
"If we want to ban the consumption of alcohol, practice zero tolerance for scout camps, we must ban it everywhere."
In response, Mogenet said the problem was not confined to the youth movements or summer camps.
"We are the only country in the world which has the name of a beer for its sports championship. That says a lot about the place we have given to alcohol in our society in general. And it would be a delusion to imagine that youth movements and all youth activities would be immune to this trend."