Underage Drinking’s Serious Problems

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Underage Drinking’s Serious Problems

Liquor Cabinet

Liquor Cabinet

Liquor Cabinet

Liquor Cabinet

Georgia Turvey, Writer

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It does not take hard-hitting statistics or an extensive report to realize that underage drinking plays a huge role in high school’s social scenes. For Madison, anyone who took a trip to last week’s hockey game witnessed that many teens see drinking as a fun social opportunity. It’s due to these problems that the number 21 seems to glare at us.

When teens drink it is often behind the backs of parents, administrators, and always the law. There are the obvious risks to drinking; brain damage and alcohol poisoning being two of the most commonly known, but for teenagers who decide to drink,  the greatest risk lies in the fact that they have had no education in the safe consumption of alcohol. Legally, schools must tell teens not to drink without acknowledging that many still will. Consequentially, schools cannot discuss responsible drinking practices. Too many times it takes a dangerous encounter with substance abuse for a high school student to learn the very tangible risks they are dealing with. In countries where the drinking age is eighteen, teens first learn to drink with their parents, not with peers. Often, their entire approach to drinking contrasts ours in America where drinking becomes just a part of social life and event in of its self.

Peer pressure is one of the largest reasons teens drink, though it does not take the stereotypical form we’re often taught about. Just by being in the presence of friends who are drinking, high schoolers feel left out by not participating. Even students who hadn’t initially planned on drinking before the hockey game decided to partake once they heard of their friends’ plans. In addition, the media perpetuates the idea that all teens drink. High school is dramatized as a red solo cup party and teens sometimes see this type of experience as a rite of passage.

It should not take a trip to the hospital for teens to learn the risks of drinking. In an open dialogue parents must discuss their expectations with their teen while also recognizing their responsibility to prepare teens for early experiences with alcohol. With a legal drinking age of 21, safe drinking is a conversation many parents are unwilling to have.

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