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College Students Involved in Alcohol-Related Offenses Often Receive Light Penalties

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A new study finds U.S. college students involved in alcohol-related offenses and incidents often receive light penalties.

The study of alcohol-related incidents on and off campus at 343 colleges found law officials were not likely to issue citations to students for violation of alcohol laws, according to HealthDay. Instead of being charged and having to appear in court, students often were referred to university officials for discipline. Students were generally not referred to a campus health center for alcohol screening or intervention. The college rarely contacted parents.

The study authors suggest minor consequences for drinking may contribute to binge drinking among college students. Lead researcher Toben F. Nelson of the University of Minnesota said factors that appear to contribute to higher rates of binge drinking among college students include easy availability of alcohol in bars and liquor stores, fraternity houses and college-rental houses that serve alcohol at parties – especially to underage students, cheap drink specials, low alcohol taxes and heavy marketing of alcohol.

In a news release, Nelson added, “a student social life that emphasizes drinking – such as fraternity and sorority life, and spectator rather than participatory collegiate athletics – create an environment where binge drinking is a normative and expected part of college life.”

The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. It is the first such study to examine enforcement actions for alcohol laws by campus police and security agencies in a large, nationally representative sample of colleges, according to Nelson.

1 Response to this article

  1. bill hughes / July 24, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    College Drinking the unexpected part of college life. (NIAAA)

    Virtually all college students experience the effects of college drinking – whether they drink or not.

    The problem with college drinking is not necessarily the drinking itself, but the negative consequences that result from excessive drinking.

    College drinking problems
    College drinking is extremely widespread:

    •About four out of five college students drink alcohol.
    •About half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.
    Each year, drinking affects college students, as well as college communities, and families. The consequences of drinking include:

    •Death: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.

    •Assault: More than 690,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

    •Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

    •Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.

    •Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.

    •Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

    Preventing Drinking in College
    Research strongly suggests that prevention strategies geared towards specific groups and used in combination with each other can help reduce the frequency and quantity of college drinking. These groups include:

    •Individual students
    •Student body as a whole
    •College and surrounding community

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