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Underage drinking more prevalent during holidays

It is no new revelation that kids often find ways to drink alcohol even when they are under the legal drinking age. Even though most retailers refuse to sell alcohol to individuals under the age of 21 and law enforcement often focuses its efforts on curbing underage drinking, it still happens frequently. Some would argue that the holiday season creates the type of environment that contributes to an influx in underage drinking.

With South Carolina students on break from school, there is less structure and more unsupervised time that kids have to fill. The holiday festivities, many of which are centered on drinking and socializing, also contribute to the potential spike in underage drinking.

One of the problems lies in the fact that many parents allow this behavior to happen. A study conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Liberty Mutual Insurance revealed that almost one out of three teens admitted to drinking alcohol in the presence of their parents. Similarly, 25 percent said their parents allow them to drink alcohol away from home.

More parents are allowing their teenagers to attend parties where alcohol is served. Some parents might think that battling underage drinking is a futile effort, but the study showed that parents who had zero tolerance for drinking were the top reason that teens did not drink. Other parents allow their teens to drink at home because it stops them from drinking elsewhere. This is more of a myth because 57 percent of high school students who were allowed to drink around their parents also drank outside of the home.

Underage drinking can be a dangerous precursor of things to come. Studies show that the earlier a teen begins to drink, the more likely they will develop other substance abuse problems.

When it comes to underage drinking and driving, 13 percent of young people admitted to lying to their parents about driving under the influence. If caught driving drunk, a teen could be subjected to strict and life-altering punishment.

Source: Times of Trenton, "Opinion: Holiday season provides temptation for underage drinking," Stephen Wallace, Dec. 3, 2011

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