We're very excited to announce the completion of Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America.

This study, 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, seeks to understand the cultural and environmental factors that can lead to underage drinking.

This study was commissioned because there is limited qualitative research on underage drinking. Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America used literature review, focus groups with youths and adults, annual telephone surveys, key informant interviews, expert interviews, and on-line surveys to try to gain as full a picture of teen drinking culture as possible.

Troublingly, teens view drinking as a rite of passage into adulthood. Teens cite stress as one of the main reason why they drink, putting less emphasis on peer pressure as a reason to drink. They don’t understand the damage that alcohol consumption can have on them, or the legal, educational and social consequences that drinking alcohol can have.

The study also offers some recommendations on how parents and community leaders can reduce underage drinking. Some of these include:

1. Maintain a positive perspective that changing the circumstances and cultures surrounding teen drinking is attainable.

2. Create community-wide strategies and develop long-term initiatives that include parent education. Messages about alcohol should be clear and consistent throughout the community and match what teens experience in their own lives.

3. Provide a range of extracurricular activities so that youth have other outlets of feeling connected rather than hanging out and drinking.

4.Establish opportunities for teens to talk frankly and openly about alcohol and other concerns either with parents, other teens or school and community leaders.

We hope that you'll read this study, and share it with others in your commuity who you think would be helped by it. A short executive summary of the report can be found on pages 5-10 of the PDF.