With summer in and school out, unsupervised youth may be in danger of accessing and/or consuming alcohol in their homes and in the homes of their friends. These dangers are real and possibly deadly.
Through the 2012 Ulster County Youth Development Survey, we
asked youth in grades 7-12 how they obtained alcohol and where they drank it.
While 56.8% reported not drinking at all in the past year, 25.4% reported
drinking in their own home, and 26.1% reported
drinking in the home of a friend.
In almost every case involving underage drinking, somewhere
along the way an adult broke the law. 35% of Ulster
County youth reported obtaining
alcohol with the aid of an adult. The Ulster County Social Host law holds parents accountable for drinking
parties involving under-age participants in their home. However, many adults still believe that
allowing youth to drink in the home is "safer" and that they can
teach youth to drink "responsibly". 10.3% of Ulster
County youth reported drinking with
Although many still view underage drinking as a rite of
passage, it is a dangerous practice that should be discouraged. Every three
minutes someone under the legal drinking age in the US
has to go to the emergency room because they drank underage.
Youth ages 15 and younger who drink alcohol are 4 times more
likely to become dependent on alcohol and 5 times more likely to abuse alcohol later
in life than those who wait until they are 21 or older. Alcohol use can
interfere with adolescent brain development. Adolescent brains do not
discriminate between alcohol used without permission and alcohol used with
In addition, adolescents may make the poor choice of getting
behind the wheel of a car after drinking. It is no coincidence that during
June, July and August the greatest number of teenagers perish in car crashes,
according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This summer and all year, adults should monitor and secure
alcohol at home in order to help prevent underage drinking. Parents are urged
to have a frank discussion with teens about the dangers of underage drinking
and set rules, including not getting into a car with someone who has been
If you have had the talk with your teen about drugs, but not
alcohol, now’s the time to have it.
Director of Ulster Prevention Council