Underage drinking is a major public health and safety problem in
Reasons for teens to start drinking alcohol include, but are not limited to the following:
1. Peer pressure; Young people want to fit in, socially with their peers. They think that they have to drink alcohol to be a part of the popular crowd.
2. Parental and family influences; if a child�s parent/s drink he is more likely to drink alcohol himself.
3. Boredom; Young people are more likely to experiment with alcohol if there aren�t more positive and constructive things to do in their lives.
4. Depression, low self esteem, undiagnosed learning disabilities and/ mental health related disorders; Many young people who have these factors may not realize they have an actual medical condition that can be diagnosed and treated my a medical doctor or trained mental health professional, so they can be trying to self medicate.
5. Advertising: Alcohol ads can play a small role in influencing young people to drink. However, research has mixed results in determining this factor. More extensive studies need to be done to confirm or deny this one.
Consequences of underage drinking can include the following:
1. Problems with grades, attendance and behavior in school.
2. Problems with fighting and reduced participation in youth activities,
3. Criminal records for assault, DWI etc.
4. Hangovers and illnesses.
5. Unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sex, including rape and sexual assault.
6. Higher risks for suicide and homicide.
7. Injuries and illnesses from falls, car crashes, burn drowning, and alcohol poisoning.
8. Abuse of other drugs
9. Changes in brain development that can cause life long problems.
Parents can contribute to the problem of underage drinking when they host parties in their homes and allow their children and their children�s friends drink alcohol. They think that if the kids are doing it in a supervised home, that is better than doing it out on the street. However kids who drink in their homes still leave and drive under the influence on alcohol. They can still be sexually assaulted in the home. They can still succumb to alcohol poisoning and a host of other consequences. This practice is illegal in most of not all fifty states. Penalties can, and do, vary from state to state. Parents absolutely should NOT be doing this.
Prevention can include, but is not limited to the following:
1. Education: This can be done by parents, schools, religious institutions, and other community organizations.
2. Providing safe, structured, and substance free activates for young people in your community.
3. Stepping up enforcement of existing laws that are in place in all fifty states.
4. Raising the price of alcohol.
As you can see, alcohol use among young people can be a serious problem, with serious consequences. Parents, schools, and religious and community institutions can play a large role in the prevention of this problem. That requires a team approach from all of the adults in a child�s life. The prevention of this problem is a matter of life or death. The life you may save may be that of your own child.
Sources: C.D.C., and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism