Alcohol, Youth, and the Justice System

Underage Drinking as Normative Behavior, a Status Offense, and a Risk Factor for Delinquency
  • Susan Ehrlich Martin
Part of the The Plenum Series in Crime and Justice book series (PSIC)

Abstract

Alcohol clearly is the drug of choice among youth. The vast majority of persons under 21 have consumed it, a significant minority drink heavily, and few youth have difficulty obtaining it. Although in all states the minimum legal drinking age now is 21, and most states prohibit sales to or possession by minors, alcohol misuse and attendant problems are commonplace among adolescents. The most serious of these problems, the three leading causes of death among adolescents—unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide—also are correlated with alcohol use (US Department of Health and Human Services, 1991). Alcohol-related traffic crashes account for 20% of all deaths of youth between 15 and 20 (Snyder & Sickmund, 1995). Alcohol abuse also is frequently associated with adolescent criminal or delinquent behavior, particularly violent offenses against persons (e.g., Elliott, Huizinga, & Menard, 1989). Nevertheless, scholarly examination of underage drinking as a criminal justice rather than health and safety problem has rarely captured much criminological attention, while drunk driving has been considered a “junk crime” (Ross, 1984).

Keywords

Transportation Income Cocaine Boulder Kelly 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Ehrlich Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Prevention Research BranchNational Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismRockvilleUSA

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