A census in the United States conducted in the year 2000 found that 14.5% of the population was in the 10-19-year-old range encompassing more than 40 million individuals. Among these, there are teens 13-19 years old that drink alcohol and open themselves up to a lifetime of problems and addictions. A survey in 2007 showed that 44.7% of these teenagers drunk at least one alcoholic drink within 30 days of the survey being conducted while26% of them had at least 5 drinks (Act for Youth Center of Excellence, 2008). The problem of drinking alcohol among teens is an epidemic towards which they spend nearly 5.5 billion dollars a year (Soundvision, 2008). It must be stopped and as an agent of change, I will focus my efforts on solving this issue.
There are two things that need to be considered when speaking about teens and alcohol use is the factors behind its use and the consequences of its use. There are five known factors that can contribute to teens indulging in the practice of drinking. These are “social facilitation, school defiance, stress control, peer acceptance and under parental control.” Though the main issues which surround the social constructs which make this form of action acceptable to teens are rebellion and social ideologies. In terms of rebellion teens rebel, not only against laws that they feel are imposed upon them but also parents who are the primary lawmaker in their homes. The issue behind social ideologies comes from the cultural acceptance of teens and adults drinking alcohol in society. In many ways, society and its citizens perpetuate this form of behavior and the consequences which result from it. This creates pressure from an individual’s peers to indulge in the same form of activities despite their preferences (Pavis, Cunningham-Burley & Amos, 1997).
In my opinion, the best way to use funds to stop this form of abuse is to open a center for these teens where they can divert their energies and receive a positive environment. It has been said that a stable psychological environment is imperative for the development of these teens. It is important that they have relations and a learning environment where they can see the benefits of positive values and make decisions that can better their quality of life. I believe that it is important to consider that in many homes the use of alcohol is demonized rather than explained. Instead of educating teens about the dangers, they are simply restricted. Moving away from this form of education would be my primary step. I believe that providing them with an environment that can help them make the right decisions for their lives as well as a place where they can relax and be themselves and not feel pressured by their academics or their familial obligations would go far in helping them establish themselves as useful members of society.
The center would also provide a place where teens who have been the victim of the consequences of alcohol abuse such as addiction, injuries, accidents, date rape, and suicide as well as familial and academic problems can find solace without any need for finances or prejudgments. Most centers like this exist but have preconditions that exclude individuals who they perceive to be a risk. This center would provide a haven for them to recover from their problems without any form of repercussion or rejection.
Act for Youth Center of Excellence. (2008). fACTs Regarding U.S. Teen Demographics, Attitudes, and Behaviors (with selected statistics for New York State youth). Web.
Pavis, S., Cunningham-Burley, S., & Amos, A. (1997). Alcohol consumption and young people: exploring meaning and social context. Health Education Research Theory & Practice Volume 12 Issue 3 , 311-322.
Soundvision. (2008). Statistics on Teens. Web.