Teen binge drinking has been a real problem in the United States for decades. It’s not just scary because developing teens shouldn’t be drinking alcohol in the first place; it’s dangerous because those teens could end up dead due to alcohol poisoning or drinking and driving.
That’s why it’s encouraging to read the latest results from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS). Released every two years by the Centers for Disease Control, it details the binge drinking and underage drinking rates for secondary students.
The YRBS surveyed 150,000 high school students in the United States, and they were very happy with the results. According to the survey, secondary students in the past ten years have become a lot smarter about binge drinking. The data showed a consistent decline at a statistically significant rate for the past decade.
Times have definitely changed for teens. It used to be perceived as cool to binge drink, and you’d see teens on television, movies, and media drinking to excess and having a great time. That message has changed though, and underage drinking isn’t cool anymore. Now you’ll see public service announcements to stop underage drinking, stiff fines for parents who “boot” for their kids and host underage drinking parties, and an overall theme of avoidance until teens turn 21.
The message has changed with good reason. Research has shown that drinking alcohol at a young age can increase the likelihood that the teen will abuse alcohol as he or she ages. Binge drinking can lead to drinking and driving too, and traffic crashes are the leading cause of teen death overall.
Even if you have a permissive attitude toward underage drinking, no one wants to see a teen abuse alcohol or have them make a bad decision and get behind the wheel drunk. The latest data is encouraging because it shows a steady decline in teen binge drinking, and hopefully that downward trend will continue.