According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "Underage drinking is when anyone under the minimum legal drinking age of 21 drinks alcohol. Underage drinking is a risk that attracts many developing adolescents and teens. When young people try alcohol, they often don’t realize the damaging effects drinking can have on their own lives, their families, and their communities. Aside from being illegal, underage drinking is a widespread public health problem that poses many risks. Here’s why:
Death – 4,358 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.
Serious injuries – More than 190,000 people under age 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries in 2008 alone.
Impaired judgment – Drinking can cause kids to make poor decisions, which can then result in risky behavior like drinking and driving, sexual activity, or violence.
Increased risk for physical and sexual assault – Youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault.
Brain development problems – Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol can affect this development, and contribute to a range of problems.