Underage drinking

Summary:

  • People who are under the legal drinking age should not drink alcohol
  • Parents are the single most important influence on whether or not teenagers decide to drink alcohol
  • Parents should set a good example to their children and provide clear guidance on alcohol, whatever their age

People who are under the legal drinking age should not drink alcohol.

People who drink when they are underage do so at a time when they are maturing physically and psychologically. They do so at a time in their lives when they may feel invincible or rebellious or when they are attempting to make a statement about their own independence. When alcohol is added to the mix, inhibitions may be lowered, judgement may be impaired, risk-taking may follow, and serious, potentially life-threatening, problems can arise.

The legal position

In most countries around the world there are strict laws about the minimum age for purchasing and/or consuming alcohol. These laws are established for good reasons and they should be taken very seriously. Depending on the circumstances and the country, violating these laws can result in substantial fines, losing driving privileges and maybe even jail time.

The effects

Underage drinking can cause serious problems at home and school. There are social consequences for underage drinkers, too, as it can cause reputational damage and self-esteem issues if behaviour becomes out of control. It can also be associated with or contribute to serious negative outcomes, including the following:

  • Car accidents
  • Other types of accidents
  • Suicide
  • School failure
  • Truancy
  • Theft and other unlawful behaviour
  • Unsafe sex
  • Other dangerous risk-taking practices

In addition, the effects of alcohol on the developing brain are not completely known. Some studies have reported that underage drinking may impair brain development. Respecting the law, one's self and each other is paramount.

Parents are the single most important influence on whether or not teenagers decide to drink alcohol.