WASHINGTON, DC— Ninety-seven percent of American teen girls (ages 15-17) agree that underage drinking is not worth the adverse consequences it can cause. Yet two-thirds (68%) of American teens (boys and girls) admit they – or someone they know – have made regrettable decisions linked to drinking, according to a new survey from The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a Washington-based group which fights unlawful underage drinking. The nationwide survey, conducted by KRC Research, examined a wide range of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of 500 boys and girls ages 12-17.

The social and physical risks of underage drinking revealed in the survey are reflected in an innovative, teen-directed public service announcement (PSA) titled “What You Don’t Know.” The unique PSA concept – recently selected by representatives of MTV, the Ad Council and 20,000 online voters – aims to deter teens from underage drinking.

Other key survey findings include:

Gender Matters:
  • Teen boys (67%) and girls (76%) believe that girls have “more to lose” when under the influence of alcohol.
  • More boys are most concerned with not being able to participate in school sports or clubs as a result of drinking (15%) compared to girls (4%). Eleven percent of older teen boys and girls (15-17) are most concerned about not being able to attend once in a lifetime events such as prom or graduation.

Teens Admit to Bad Decisions, Recognize Risks:

  • Nine in ten (90%) don’t think drinking is worth the negative consequences, with older teen girls (15-17) agreeing the most (97% vs. 89% for 12-14 year olds).
  • Forty-five percent say they – or someone they know – have said things to friends they regret and four in ten (40%) say they – or someone they know – have gotten into a fight while drinking.
  • Older teens (15-17) are more likely than younger teens (12-14) to say they – or someone they know – have made at least one bad decision as a result of drinking – 72% vs. 60%.
  • One fourth of teens (26%) admit they – or someone they know – have ridden in a car with a driver who has been drinking, and 21% admit they – or someone they know – have driven under the influence. Not surprisingly, older teens are more likely to say they – or someone they know – have engaged in these behaviors.

“Of course underage drinking is illegal and can lead to tragedies like car crashes and deaths, but the negative social consequences are much more prevalent,” said Kylee Darcy, a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley and winner of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s “Reel Girls, Real Life” contest, which generated the new PSA. “I hope my commercial will make teen girls think twice about all of the dangers of underage drinking.”

The Foundation’s “Reel Girls, Real Life” contest encouraged girls nationwide to submit concepts for television PSAs to dissuade peers from drinking. Darcy was awarded $5,000 and the opportunity to shoot her PSA with industry pros. Her prize also put in her in the position to positively influence other teens.

Darcy’s PSA features two teen girls, “Kristen” and “Sarah,” who are shocked to discover that a video of “Sarah” drinking at a party surfaced on a social networking web site. Viewers are instructed to visit www.alot2lose.com to find out what happens next. In three short videos posted on the site, the girls explain that they felt “Alone,” were “Benched” and got “Busted.” Alot2lose.com also features behind-the-scenes footage of Darcy’s PSA shoot.

The PSA contest was part of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s public education initiative, Girl Talk: Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking, which alerts teen girls to the unique social and physical risks of drinking for their demographic through presentations and an interactive Web site, www.grltlk.org.

“The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility gives young women a voice in curbing illegal underage drinking and promoting healthy lifestyles,” said Council Chairman, Susan Molinari. “We hope that this PSA and the findings of our survey which both highlight the dangers of drinking teen girls often overlook, will inform her peers.”

About The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding drinking or non-drinking of beverage alcohol and to discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. Recognizing fifteen years of progress, America’s leading distillers have promoted The Foundation’s mission by investing over $175 million in its programs to fight drunk driving and underage drinking. For more information about Girl Talk or The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, please visit www.grltlk.org or www.responsibility.org.

Survey Methodology
KRC Research conducted the telephone survey among a national sample of 500 teens comprising 250 males and 250 females 12 to 17 years of age, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing was completed during the period February 21-24, 2008. The estimated margin of error for the study is ±4.4% for all teens and 6.2% for each gender at 95% confidence level.

Editor’s Note:
More information about the survey, copies of the PSA and interviews with contest winner Kylee Darcy and Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility spokespeople are available upon request. 


Ernestine Sclafani