FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OJJDP
DATE: July 19, 2001 202/307-0703
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT RELEASES FIRST-TIME COMPARISON DATA ON EUROPEAN AND U.S. YOUTH DRINKING RATES AND PROBLEMS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Young people from Europe do not drink more responsibly than young people from the United States, according to comparison data released today by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
In comparison with young people in the United States:
n A greater percentage of young people from nearly all European countries report drinking in the past 30 days.
n A greater percentage of young people report having five or more drinks in a row.
n About half of the European countries have intoxication rates among young people that are higher than the intoxication rates in the United States.
Commonly, Europe is held up as an example where there are more liberal drinking age laws and attitudes that, in turn, foster more responsible styles of drinking by young people. It is often asserted that young Europeans learn to drink more responsibly than young people from the United States.
In 1995, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs was conducted with 15- to 16-year-old students in 26 European countries. The questionnaire was modeled closely after the U.S. Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1975. According to the research, there is no evidence that the stricter laws and policies regarding drinking by young people in the United States are associated with higher rates of intoxication. Equally, there is no evidence that the more liberal policies and drinking socialization practices in Europe are associated with lower levels of intoxication.
The analysis of the European and United States data was prepared by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), as part of PIRE’s ongoing support of OJJDP’s Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program (EUDL). Under the EUDL program, OJJDP provides funds to each state and the District of Columbia to implement programs to enforce laws relating to selling alcohol to underage drinkers. Discretionary grants are also awarded to help communities develop comprehensive approaches to the problem of underage drinking, with an emphasis on increasing law enforcement activity. In addition, as a member of “Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free,” OJJDP works with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and other public and private sector partners in disseminating information on the negative health consequences associated with children’s use of alcohol.
A bulletin highlighting the comparison data is available on-line through OJJDP’s Web site at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ Click on the EUDL Compendium scrolling message featured under “The Latest from OJJDP,” and the document can be found under “Publications of the Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program.” For more information about the data analysis or to obtain hard copies of the bulletin, contact the EUDL Center for Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws at 1-877-335-1287.
For more information concerning OJJDP and the EUDL program, contact the Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.
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