Scientific understanding and knowledge of the dangers of underage drinking have increased substantially over the past few decades. We know that underage drinking is associated with various negative consequences for children and can affect and endanger the lives of those around them.
According to research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), parents need to take note of the facts that children who drink alcohol are more likely to:
Use drugs: Frequent binge drinkers (nearly 1 million high school students nationwide) are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including using other drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
Get bad grades: Children who use alcohol have higher rates of academic problems and poor school performance compared with nondrinkers.
Suffer injury or death: In 2009, an estimated 1,844 homicides; 949,400 nonfatal violent crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault; and 1,811,300 property crimes, including burglary, larceny, and car theft were attributed to underage drinking.
Engage in risky sexual activity: Young people who use alcohol are more likely to be sexually active at earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have unprotected sex.
Make bad decisions: Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that children will engage in risky behavior or do something that they will regret when they are sober.
Have health problems: Young people who drink are more likely to have health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders.
Summer vacation is the perfect time to engage young teens in a conversation about the dangers of alcohol. Tips and tools are available for community groups and parents on NCADD Sacramento’s Underage Drinking Prevention page.