Underage Drinking In America: Punishments Could Ban Students From Graduation & School Activities

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald August 01, 09:14 am

Schools in the United States continue to struggle with underage drinking at prom and other school activities. Some states, however, are planning to enforce tougher punishments for students caught using alcohol and drugs at school events.

Graduation Ban For Underage Drinkers

Montgomery County, Maryland is pushing for stricter punishments such as banning the students caught drinking and using drugs from graduation ceremonies and school activities, according to The Washington Post. This type of tougher punishments is already implemented in Fairfax County, Virginia.

For a first offense, students in Fairfax County caught using alcohol or drugs at school events will be suspended from clubs, athletic teams, and other activities for a month. In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, school officials are considering to revoke students' freedom to attend commencement and other senior events if they were caught using alcohol and drugs weeks prior to the graduation ceremony.

Educators in Maryland are frustrated as graduating classes continue to have alcohol-related accidents every year. They believe that the tougher approach isn't punishment, but as a way to save young people's lives.


Some people think that banning underage drinkers from graduation is too retaliatory in nature, adding that it would also affect the students' families. Others believe that removing the students' access to extracurricular activities would sever their connection to the school.

Mandi Mader, a psychotherapist, said students who abuse alcohol and drugs usually have serious issues that require help from experts. Banning them from graduation and school activities might worsen their condition.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, state officials have rolled out an emotional anti-teen drinking campaign called Talk It Out NC. One of the campaign's video commercials titled "Lungs" showed a teenage girl lying on the ground, with her raspy breaths coming out slowly until it stops altogether, Greensboro.com reported.

Talk It Out NC is aimed towards middle school-aged children and their parents. The ads are usually shown online, during sports events, and in movie theaters.

The risks that come with underage drinking are serious injuries, impaired judgment, increased likelihood to carry out physical and sexual assault, brain development issues, and death, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism listed. Experts also said that a child's brain is still in development up to the age of 25, which means that their learning and memory can be damaged or hindered by using alcohol and drugs during adolescence.

AddictionCenter.com said teenagers have high risks of binge drinking because their impulse control isn't fully developed yet. Binge drinking often leads to a variety of problems such as alcohol poisoning, liver disease, and sexually transmitted diseases, the CDC listed.

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