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Underage Youth Get Alcohol from Social Sources

esearchers conducted two waves of shoulder-tap requests outside of 219 randomly selected convenience or liquor stores in both urban and suburban areas. Requesters were young adults (4 females, 1 male) aged 21 years or older who appeared to be 18 to 20 years old. Requesters explained that they did not have their identification with them, and asked the adults to purchase a six-pack of beer for them.

During wave one, requesters conducted 102 attempts, with the requester approaching the first adult entering the store alone. During wave two, requesters conducted 102 attempts, approaching the first casually dressed male entering the store alone who appeared to be 21 to 30 years old.

Only a small percentage eight percent of the general adult population entering alcohol establishments are willing to purchase alcohol for individuals who appear under age 21, said Toomey. This is an encouraging finding. However, we also found that a higher percentage of young males 19 percent were willing to purchase alcohol for underage youth.

Although 19 percent may sound like a relatively low success rate, it means that a given youth has about an 80 percent probability of obtaining alcohol within eight attempts with randomly selected adults, said Grube. The actual success rate is probably higher because youth are most likely selective in who they approach and where.

Furthermore, added Toomey, one in five young men entering alcohol establishments in this area would have been breaking the law if our requesters had actually been under age 21. There are serious implications for social provision of alcohol to a minor; in Minnesota it is a gross misdemeanor. If there is an injury or death related to the alcohol provision, the adult could be charged with a felony.

Both Toomey and Grube had recommendations for addressing the problem.If adults purchase alcohol and then provide it to underage youth, law enforcement agents may either cite or e
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