Dec 122002
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

Who doesn’t love the movie “American Pie?” Who doesn’t love watching Stifler, Jim, Nadia and the gang blunder through their young life drinking and fornicating?

But what effect might these types of movies have on our youth?

A study released Monday by the American Medical Association said American children drink alcohol for the first time at age 12, and that nearly 20 percent of underage drinkers “binge drink” or have four or five drinks in a row.

Drinking can have effects on children, both socially and physically. Physically, drinking damages young, underdeveloped bodies and brains. The study indicated that the brain damage could impair memory and reasoning skills. Socially, drinking can lead to a lifestyle of drug abuse and crime if no parental or other strong adult figure is present.

But do these movies, and other similar media, cause young people to drink?

The Denver Post ran a story citing the same statistics and quoted students saying movies and other media that glorify drinking make drinking look cool and accepted, therefore, convincing them to drink.

But we think more blame falls on the shoulders of parents, peers and community.

Kids are more likely to drink if their peers do and if their parents are either non- effective or not around. If many of a kid’s friends drink, then the kid is more than likely to drink, and if the kid lives in a community where drinking is the norm, then, again, the kid will likely drink.

While this may not seem like news to many of you, and this column probably doesn’t add much to the debate, it is important for all of us to understand the various reasons kids drink and work on preventing it.

Blaming movies and other media is not a solution because the effects the media have on kids is far less than the effects parents and peers have.

And while these kids said the media helped convince them to drink, we need to understand these kids probably aren’t aware of the various dynamics of what causes human responses, and that blaming the media was an easy way for them to answer the question.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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