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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Social Norms and Teen Drinking

Oh my, teachers are having DUI courts in middle school these days, suggesting that teen drinking and driving is a frequent enough occurrence to warrant early prevention, but the data says otherwise.

I believe it is our own bad habits and the media that are driving our perception that teens are drinking and driving more frequently. In fact, in 2006 there were 63% fewer teen DUI-related deaths than there were in 1982! Teens are getting it - drinking and driving do not mix! In fact, they are getting many of the anti-drug messages and rates of marijuana use are declining, as are rates for alcohol and other drug use. You can check out the Monitoring the Future Report for more information, and the California-specific press release at

If we continue to portray drug and alcohol use as "normal," we are doing serious damage to all teens - we are not acknowledging those making healthy decisions and we are ignoring those who may be developing addictions. The social norms campaigns being waged by PTAs across the country are trying to do just that and are worth taking some time to explore.

Photo credit: Mike "Dakinewavamon" Kline
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.