Why It’s Important

Why It's Important to Talk to Your Students About Underage Drinking

Parents are the leading influence in a kids decision to drink or not to drink, yet they are not the only line of defense against underage drinking.

Teachers play a crucial role in guiding students in both their academic and social growth. Encouraging words from a teacher will boost confidence which can embolden youth to stand up for what they believe and be true leaders among their peers. Teachers, school counselors, and even school administrators encourage kids to excel in the classroom and should remind kids not to drink alcohol underage.

We encourage teachers to utilize the resource the Ask, Listen, Learn program provides in your classroom to start discussions around the importance of saying NO to underage drinking.

The Facts

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More than 7 million Americans aged 12 to 20—nearly one-fifth of underage kids—say they consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (Source: 2016 NSDUH, September 2017)

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84% of parents think it is very important to have ongoing conversations often about underage drinking. This conversation doesn’t always come naturally though and that’s where the Ask, Listen, Learn program comes in to help!

The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also found that older teens are more likely to drink; less than one percent of 12 year olds compared to 22 percent of 17 year olds.

According to the 2017 Monitoring the Future Study, 23 percent of 8th graders report they have tried alcohol once in their lifetime and 9% report they have been drunk.

Three out of four parents self-identify themselves as the most reliable source of information about alcohol and underage drinking (A Lifetime of Conversations, 2017).

Parents identify alcohol’s interference with a child’s judgment and ability to make good decisions, unintended consequences of alcohol consumption, and damage to a child’s brain development as the most important reasons for youth to avoid underage drinking. An evaluation of Ask, Listen, Learn demonstrates that youth positively respond to learning about how alcohol effects their brain development and their behavior.


Tweens are undergoing many emotional and physical changes, and they’re fascinated by how their bodies and minds operate. Give your students plenty of information about how alcohol affects them physiologically.

  • Physically, alcohol affects many of the body’s organs and systems. It can irritate the stomach lining, make people lose their balance, throw up, and become unable to focus or speak clearly.
  • In rare circumstances an overdose — known as alcohol poisoning — can kill.
  • Emotionally, it can make young people stressed, angry, and violent.
  • Mentally, it can interfere with normal brain development.
  • It affects learning and memory, slows reactions, and often makes kids lose interest in getting good grades and staying in school.
  • In other cases, usually in larger amounts, it can act as a depressant, potentially leading to sleep, comas, and even death.
  • In some situations alcohol reduces inhibitions, leading to a wide range of risky situations.
  • Drinking too much over a long period of time can damage major organs, including the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and bone marrow.
> Read Next The Teacher’s Role

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