Juvenile Justice Bulletin/September 2012
Underage drinking is a widespread offense that can have serious physical, neurological, and legal consequences. Problematically, it has become quite commonplace. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) works to eliminate underage consumption of alcohol and provide guidance for communities developing prevention and treatment programs.
OJJDP created the underage drinking bulletin series to educate practitioners and policymakers about the problems youth face when they abuse alcohol and to provide evidence-based guidelines. The series presents findings from a study on preventing underage drinking in the Air Force as well as a literature review of the effects and consequences of underage drinking, best practices for community supervision of underage drinkers and legal issues surrounding underage drinking, and practice guidelines for working with underage drinkers.
The series highlights the dangers of underage drinking. Hopefully, the information it provides will support communities in their efforts to reduce alcohol use by minors through the use of evidence- based strategies and practices.
The authors highlight the following points:-The human brain continues to develop until a person is around age 25. Underage drinking may impair this neurological development, causing youth to make irresponsible decisions, encounter memory lapses, or process and send neural impulses more slowly. -Underage drinking cost society $68 billion in 2007, or $1 for every drink consumed. This includes medical bills, income loss, and costs from pain and suffering. -In 2009, 19 percent of drivers ages 16–20 who were involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal adult limit (0.08). -Alcohol use encourages risky sexual behavior. Youth who drink may be more likely to have sex, become pregnant, or contract sexually transmitted diseases.