Study shows residents' opinions about underage drinking problem

April 25 2008

TERRE HAUTE ��" The majority of respondents in a survey agreed that Vigo County has an underage drinking problem; however, they also thought the county’s problem was about the same as other communities.

In the telephone survey conducted by Indiana State University psychology and sociology students, 78 percent of the respondents agree that Vigo County has an underage drinking problem, with 71.2 percent of the respondents stating the county’s problem is the same as other communities.

However, Lauren Love, a senior sociology major from Brazil, pointed out that Strategic Prevention Framework/State Incentive Grant funding was given to Vigo County because of the number and rate of fatal alcohol-related auto accidents, as well as arrests for public intoxication. Indiana Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup ranked Vigo County ninth in Indiana in underage drinking and concluded it was a high-need county for funds to combat the problem.

“Clearly, residents of this county don’t have an accurate view of the problem,” she said. “They don’t think it’s nearly as bad as it is.”

Also, 50.7 percent of respondents think that experimenting with alcohol is a normal part of growing up, but almost 95 percent agreed that such experimentations are risky and dangerous.

When questioned as to whether it was ever appropriate for those under 21 to drink, 85 percent said no. Of those who said there were times that it was appropriate, 67.8 percent said those underage shouldn’t drink even under parental supervision, while 84.2 percent said parents shouldn’t host alcohol parties.

With the remaining 15 percent approving of parents hosting alcohol parties, Tim Enright, a senior psychology major from Evansville, said that could have additional ramifications.

“Kids would not have a hard time finding alcohol,” he said.

When asked why the problem exists, 85.5 percent said because of a lack of parental supervision, while 82.8 percent said it was due to peer pressure. Additionally, 51.9 percent said that those underage and using alcohol didn’t know the risks, while 45.7 percent said it was due to laws not being enforced.

Yet, when asked how effective stricter enforcement of laws, more treatment programs or prevention education programs would be, 75.1 percent said stricter enforcement would be most effective to combat underage drinking.

“Clearly, the sample doesn’t understand the problem,” said Tomorrow McGaughey, a senior sociology major from Terre Haute.

The survey’s information will now be passed along to the Vigo County Strategic Prevention Framework/State Incentive Grant, according to Thomas Steiger, professor of sociology and women’s studies.

“This is only one bit of information to prepare an epidemiological profile,” he said. “Then SPF/SIG will use that to decide how best to handle the problem.”

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Contact: Thomas Steiger, professor of sociology and women’s studies, Indiana State University, at 812-237-3426 or at tsteiger@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@isugw.indstate.edu

Photo: http://ISUphoto.smugmug.com/photos/284543761_HcMuK-D.jpg

Cutline: Tim Enright, a senior psychology major from Evansville, speaks about the Indiana State University’s survey findings about underage drinking in Vigo County.

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Story Highlights

The majority of respondents in a survey agreed that Vigo County has an underage drinking problem; however, they also thought the county's problem was about the same as other communities.

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