Under Age Drinking and Future Criminal Behavior

Under Age Drinking and Future Criminal Behavior

Researchers investigate the long-term effects of under-age drinking. 

It is an age old debate – do strict drinking laws for young people lead to less problems with drinking or crime later on in life? Different countries take different approaches when it comes to what age drinking is allowed and how strict laws are enforced, but all countries are interested in finding the best approach to reduce harm in the short and long term.

The question of long term effects of alcohol consumption among youth is one that researchers in the United States have recently released new data about.  Their ultimate question based on several hypotheses, is whether or not under age drinking more often or not leads to criminal behavior later in life. Peer groups were the main focus of the study, as the age group people are a part of can have a strong impact on things such as how they approach drinking during their younger years and possibly throughout life.

Their conclusions re-enforced the significance that strict drinking laws can curb overall alcohol related problems. The idea that delaying young people access to alcohol does show reduced problems later in life seems to be accurate. People who grew up in peer groups where drinking laws were more strictly enforced have less instances of alcoholism or arrest later in life.

The result of the study largely supports existing wisdom about being tough on drinking. An odd result, it would seem, as compared to the short comings of zero tolerance policies in the world of drug enforcement.  The researchers themselves indicate one of the major limitations of the study is that it doesn’t take into account demographic, income, and race or ethnic group information. After all, it isn’t just the law that impacts how the individual or group handles drinking, it is a large combination of factors that influence how alcohol is treated when we’re young, and what impact it has on us as we get older.

Source: Sage Open

Reference: Chris Barnum, Nick J. Richardson, & Robert J. Perfetti (2012). The Relationship Between Underage Alcohol Possession and Future Criminal Behavior: An Empirical Analysis Using Age–Period Cohort Characteristics Models SAGE Open : 10.1177/2158244012438561

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