Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous - both to themselves and society at large. Underage alcohol use is associated with traffic fatalities, violence, unsafe sex, suicide, educational failure, and other problem behaviors that diminish the prospects of future success, as well as health risks - and the earlier teens start drinking, the greater the danger. Despite these serious concerns, the media continues to make drinking look attractive to youth, and it remains possible and even easy for teenagers to get access to alcohol.
Why is this dangerous behavior so pervasive? What can be done to prevent it? What will work and who is responsible for making sure it happens? Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsbility, a joint report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, addresses these questions and proposes a new way to combat underage alcohol use. It explores the ways in which may different individuals and groups contribute to the problem and how they can be enlisted to prevent it.
The report says that reducing underage drinking requires a cooperative effort from all levels of government, alcohol manufacturers and retailers, the entertainment industry, parents and other adults in a community. The report proposes a comprehensive strategy to curb underage drinking, a problem that costs the nation an estimated $53 billion annually, due in part to losses stemming from traffic fatalities and violent crime.