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June 6, 2005, Monday, FINAL EDITION

LENGTH: 444 words
HEADLINE: Dangers in drinking

As high school graduates celebrate this month, many parents rightfully worry about drinking and the safety of their children. But instead of trying to reduce underage access to alcohol, increasing numbers of parents are actually supplying alcohol for teenagers.

Recent polls by the American Medical Association reveal that 10% of parents think it's OK for teens to go to graduation parties with alcohol if a parent is present. Meanwhile, 20% of 16- to 18-year-olds say they have attended such a graduation party. And 15% of those respondents had been to a graduation party where the alcohol was actually supplied by parents.

These statistics show that more teens attend drinking parties than their parents would allow and suggest a dangerous trend of a small minority of parents undermining the authority of the vast majority who, rightly, do not allow their teenage children to drink.

Underage drinking is a major factor in the two leading causes of teenage deaths: car accidents and fatal injuries. A recent AMA report reveals the long-term, irreversible damage that drinking inflicts on teenage brains, which continue developing until age 20.

Serving alcohol to one's own children may be considered culturally acceptable by some, but serving alcohol to someone else's child is illegal, life-threatening and unacceptable.

Dr. J. Edward Hill, president-elect American Medical Association, Chicago