ARLINGTON, VA—While teens admit to clearly hearing messages about the dangers of drinking and driving, new research indicates that teens do not acknowledge the toll alcohol plays on a maturing body or the legal consequences of consuming alcohol underage. Alarmingly, teens studied indicate that consuming alcohol was viewed as a rite of passage in high school as they approached adulthood. The Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America study was conducted by George Mason University and funded by The Century Council to learn more about teen drinking habits directly from teens themselves.
Teens admit one of the main reasons they drink alcohol is to reduce stress. Far less emphasis was placed on peer pressure surrounding drinking. In most instances, teens are getting alcohol from older siblings and more often than not are getting away with drinking in their parents’ home without adults recognizing the problem.
One of the main points of interest in the study is that school officials and teens alike agree alcohol awareness programs currently in the schools are ineffective. Both suggest there is a discrepancy on what students are told about alcohol in school and their own experiences.
“This research acknowledges that we need programs that speak to what the students understand and believe. This in-depth understanding of the nature of youths’ decisions to drink or not to drink will help develop future programs to combat underage drinking at The Century Council,” said Susan Molinari, Chairman of The Century Council.
The study, Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America, was an innovative, independent research project designed to better understand the psychological and sociological factors that affect adolescents as they make decisions regarding whether to engage in alcohol-related behaviors. The Century Council, funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, awarded George Mason University a grant that funded this two-year research initiative which was a collaboration between cultural anthropology and public health. The project was co-directed by George Mason University researchers Dr. David Anderson, professor of Education and Human Development and director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Health, and Dr. Hugh Gusterson, professor of Anthropology and Sociology.
About The Century Council
The Century Council is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; Pernod Ricard USA; and Sidney Frank Importing Co., Inc. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and chaired by Susan Molinari, The Century Council is a leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol. The Century Council develops and implements innovative programs and public awareness campaigns and promotes action through strategic partnerships. Established in 1991, The Century Council’s initiatives are highlighted on its website at www.centurycouncil.org.
About George Mason University
Named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition. To learn more about the Understanding Teen Drinking in America research project visit the project’s website at http://teenalcoholcultures.gmu.edu.
The Century Council