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Study says parents can help prevent underage drinking

A study presented in Seattle on Aug. 22 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association found that parents setting clear rules could reduce the incidence of underage drinking. The study surveyed over 1,100 people and found that teenagers from families with rules about underage drinking had a 35 percent less chance of attending a party with alcohol in the previous 30 days.

Of the roughly 60 percent who had been at parties where alcohol was served, the respondents from homes with clear rules had a 38 percent less chance of drinking at the parties. Almost 60 percent of respondents overall reported that their parents had clear rules about alcohol consumption. Researchers said that the study might help shape the way parents approach educating their teens about alcohol.

However, researchers also pointed out errors where more investigation was needed. Around three-fourths of the respondents were white, so the results might not apply across all demographics. Furthermore, researchers said that they did not know what kind of rules worked best. For example, it was not clear whether it was better to have rules about not attending parties or specifically not drinking alcohol. A researcher unaffiliated with the project suggested that data about birth order, religion and parents' own behaviors around alcohol might also provide additional useful information.

One danger of underage drinking is that it may also lead to charges for drunk driving. People should not assume that being detained for drunk driving is not serious because they are a minor. DUI charges may be serious for people of any age and may carry penalties that include license suspension, a fine, jail time or having to install an ignition interlock device. A DUI may also have implications for a person's career or even their schooling. As a result, having the assistance of counsel to attempt to combat the charges might be advisable.

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