Youth Drinking in America Essay

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Youth Drinking in America The underage consumption of alcohol is a major obstacle in America. Current statistics show 35 percent of all wine coolers and 1.1 billion cans of beer are consumed each year by underage, illegal drinkers (Novello 455). Possibly the hardest fact to stomach is that children "believe drinking is the thing to do" (Benenson 38). Parents, educators, legislators, and lawmakers previously thought that peer pressure was to blame, however, that is no longer the issue. Underage drinking in America is primarily the cause of children trying to fit in (also known as social drinking), advertising that is aimed at underage drinkers, and inherited traits/genetics. We must understand that alcohol abuse is no longer 'just…show more content…
in Olinger 1D). But how many children are drinking? A survey of 13,800 elementary students found that many children tried alcohol before they finished fourth grade, three in four middle school students reported alcohol was easy to get and, one in four high school students admitted to drinking (qtd. in Olinger 1D). Nationally, 50 percent of twelfth-graders admitted drinking alcohol over a thirty-day period (qtd. in Sowell 19A). And, [a]t least 90 percent of college students drink [alcohol] (qtd. in Benenson 35). Those opposed to these views argue that developmental studies generally pinpoint peer pressure to pre and early adolescents, thus older children are not subject to this pressure, and this is not a cause of underage drinking. However, peer pressure is not the issue. These children are not forced into drinking by their peers. They simply correlate drinking with acceptance, thus they drink to be accepted. Many experts view drinking as a natural occurrence for children, they state, "They [children] are simply testing their limits" (Benenson 36). If this is how our children view alcohol, they are viewing it in all the wrong ways. We must help them understand that alcohol will not help them 'fit in,' it will only hurt them much sooner than later. Trying to fit in is not the only problem that causes underage alcohol consumption; advertising aimed at underage drinkers also contributes to the predicament.
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