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Parental Influence on Underage Drinking. Proposal by Emily Shaw. Alcohol is a major problem for children and teens in the United States. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.

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Parental Influence on Underage Drinking

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Parental Influence on Underage Drinking

Proposal by Emily Shaw

Alcohol is a major problem for children and teens in the United States.

  • Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.

  • More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.

  • Alcohol kills 6.5 times more youth than ALL other illicit drugs combined.

  • By the 8th grade, 52%of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 41% have smoked cigarettes, and 20% have used marijuana.

ALCOHOL KILLSTraffic crashes are the greatest single cause of death for all persons age 6–33. About 45% of these fatalities are alcohol-related crashes. More than one third of impaired driving fatalities occur among persons aged <25.

Police on the Scene of Fatal Drunk Driving Crash

Alcohol Linked To Drug Use

  • Binge drinkers under 21 were almost 9 times more likely to have smoked pot during the past month and 6 times more likely to have used other illicit drugs during the past month than non-binge drinkers. Remember 90% binge drink!

  • Youth who drink alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink alcohol.

  • Allowing a child to drink increases the chances that he or she will become a drug addict.

Underage Drinking Linked to Adult Alcoholism

  • Teen drinking is the number one source of adult alcoholism. Children who begin drinking before age 21 are more than twice as likely to develop alcohol-related problems.

  • Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times likelier to become alcoholics than those who do not drink before age 21.

Underage Drinking…

  • “The financial costs of underage drinking approach $53 billion in accidents, drowning, burns, violent crime, suicide attempts, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisoning and emergency medical care” (CASA, 2003, pg. ii).

  • “In 2008, there were 141,683 admissions for adolescents aged 12 to 17 to substance abuse treatment programs” (Office of Applied Studies, 2010, pg. 3).

Research on Parental Influence

  • Higher levels of monitoring are related to lower levels of adolescent alcohol use. When parents establish explicit rules and boundaries for adolescent behavior, such as curfews and a minimum number of study hours per day, and when they reasonably and consistently enforce consequences for violating rules, adolescents tend to initiate alcohol use later and to consume alcohol less frequently.

  • Teenagers whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those whose parents don't, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.

Exceptions to the Minimum Age

Although there is a federal law making the minimum age 21 to purchase or possess alcohol, states differ in their liquor laws. In many states a parent/guardian can legally provide alcohol to his/her own children depending on location.

Exceptions to Minimum Age of 21 for Possession of Alcohol as of January 1, 2010

Exceptions to Minimum Age of 21 for Consumption of Alcohol as of January 1, 2010

Prohibition of Internal Possession of Alcohol by Persons Under 21 Years of Age as of January 1, 2010

Number of States with Family and Location Exceptions to Minimum Age of 21 for Possession of Alcohol, January 1, 1998 through January 1, 2010

My Proposal

  • My proposal to combat underage drinking is to pass a federal law that prohibits everyone, including parents, from allowing underage drinking.

  • I propose that any adult caught providing alcohol to a minor, or allowing a minor to drink, regardless of guardianship or location be penalized.

Actions to Take



  • Gain support: A board of trustees, and volunteers who are personally invested and will advocate for this law.

  • Campaigns: Fund-raising, outreaching, sharing stories through volunteer presentations, and media exposure to educate and inform people of the consequences of underage drinking.

  • Take Political Action by finding an elected member of Congress who will be willing to sponsor a bill for a federal law that eliminates exceptions to allowing underage drinking.

  • Make sure he/she is passionate about the idea.

    Make sure the representative is persuasive and well-liked.

  • Hire a debater who can help him/her with the presentation of the bill.

  • Keep the campaigns going by urging supporters to contact representatives and contribute financially.

Objectives of Campaigns

  • To inform parents and children of the risks and consequences of underage drinking.

  • To educate parents on how to stop enabling their child’s negative behavior.

  • To send a strong message that underage drinking should never be tolerated in order to gain support for such a law.

  • To raise money and support for a federal law.



  • The costs involved in gaining support and getting a federal law passed could run in the millions.

  • Extensive funds are needed for media and marketing costs in order to educate the public.

  • Campaigns differ in cost but a hypothetical guess is around 8 million dollars.

  • Fewer parents will allow underage drinking if there are consequences for doing so.

  • Someone observing children/adolescents drinking with their parents will be able to do something about it.

  • Children will be protected from irresponsible parenting.

  • The public will be better educated about the negative effects of alcohol on children and adolescents.

  • Fewer children/adolescents will be at risk for alcoholism/drug addiction.

  • Fewer minors will die in alcohol-related deaths.

  • All adults, parents included, will be held accountable for allowing minors to drink.


  • Underage drinking is a huge problem and poses significant risks for children and teens. While there is no simple solution to stop teens from drinking, it is only common sense that we need to target the problem where it often begins, in the home.

  • Parents need to be held accountable if they contribute to underage drinking. No adult, parent or not, has the right to pave a path of addiction for a child.

  • The only way to hold parents accountable is to create a nation-wide law making it illegal in all states to provide alcohol to minors, with NO exceptions.

  • Severe consequences need to be in place for adults caught allowing or contributing to underage drinking. If the attitude that “drinking is harmless and should be at a parents discretion” does not change, our country will continue to watch our young people end up in prison, institutions and dead.

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