U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility

NCJ Number
Richard J. Bonnie, Mary Ellen O'Connell
Date Published
334 pages
This book attempts to address the questions of why underage drinking is so pervasive, what can be done to reduce it, and what will work and who is responsible for making it work.
Research studies indicate that alcohol is the most commonly used drug among America’s youth. More young people drink alcohol than smoke tobacco or use marijuana. In addition, young people who drink tend to drink a lot. Alcohol is easily accessible and largely from adults. However, adults tend to underestimate the prevalence of underage drinking, fail to recognize the full range of negative consequences that can result, and assume that drinking is something that other children, not theirs, do. The Committee on Developing a Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking created in 2002 was charged by Congress to develop a cost-effective strategy to reduce underage drinking. The committee concentrated more on population-based primary prevention approaches, as opposed to individually oriented approaches. The preeminent goal of the recommended strategy is to create and sustain a broad societal commitment to reduce underage drinking. The proposed strategy has 10 main components: (1) development of a national adult-oriented media campaign; (2) joint effort with private and public partners to establish and fund an independent nonprofit foundation to reduce and prevent underage drinking; (3) facilitate public awareness of advertising practices; (4) educating the entertainment media about the social responsibility to avoid portrayals of underage drinking as favorable; (5) limiting youth access to alcohol; (6) targeted youth-oriented interventions; (7) development of community designed multi-pronged comprehensive initiatives; (8) the eliciting of government assistance and coordination; (9) the leveling of alcohol excise taxes; and (10) the development and implementation of rigorous research and evaluation. The proposed strategy calls for the development of a national campaign to engage adults in a concerted effort to stop enabling or ignoring youth drinking. Tables, figures, references, appendixes A-E and background papers