Facing Underage Drinking

In Massachusetts alone, two teenagers have just died from excessive drinking. In one case, a 17-year-old girl was at a party at a friend's house. The friend's father allegedly was home and was aware of the group drinking in his basement. In another case, a freshman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was at a fraternity party off campus. Many of the details of that night are still unclear.

What is clear is that both deaths could and should have been avoided. Too many young people aren't getting a strong enough message about the dangers of drinking. Usually they feel pressure from peers. Too often the adults in their lives either implicitly condone the activity or at least do little to try and stop it.

Advertising is one way to get the fact across that drinking - like other drug use - is not only illegal (for those under 21), but potentially lethal. Parents are even better messengers. They're the moral compass in their children's lives. Though they can't be with them every minute, they can instill in their kids a sense of what's right and what's not. And drinking is not.

School administrators, too, have a responsibility. MIT's president, Charles Vest, says the school will, among other things, build new residence halls for underclassmen so that they won't be forced to live in fraternities or sororities. Apparently he now realizes that administrators, like parents, can't afford to look the other way.

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