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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
report’s findings nationwide. NIAAA also is one of the leading funders, with SAMHSA and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, of Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, a major national effort involving governors’ spouses to reduce alcohol use among children aged 9 to 15. SAMHSA staff reported funding a wide variety of interventions including initiatives aimed at education and awareness, supporting community-based initiatives, developing guides and toolkits, and furthering research objectives. Several of these initiatives involve collaboration with other HHS agencies (e.g., NIAAA, CDC).
The largest single targeted program included in the GAO report is in the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). According to the report (U.S. GAO, 2001, p. 12), OJJDP funds “retail compliance initiatives, prevention programs, and fostering a juvenile justice system that, among other things, provides appropriate sanctions, treatment and rehabilitative services based on the needs of the individual juvenile.” OJJDP’s Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program is “designed to reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages to minors and prevent the consumption of alcoholic beverage by minors.” The funds are distributed through block and discretionary grants. A national training and technical assistance center, the Center for Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program is funded through this program.
A relatively small program at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) funds interventions that “address the problems of drunk and drugged driving and prevention programs targeting zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use among youth. They administer a formula and incentive grant program, award discretionary grants and contracts and enter into cooperative agreements with other entities (U.S. GAO, 2001, p. 14).” Formula grants to states fund highway safety programs, which may include underage drinking programs.
Several agencies also provide resources to advance efforts to prevent underage drinking. Both NIAAA and SAMHSA have published several technical assistance documents highlighting various aspects of underage drinking and approaches to reducing underage drinking and have multiple mechanisms in place to disseminate this information. OJJDP provides both training and technical assistance through its Center for the Enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws. NHTSA has published several documents aimed at reducing drinking and driving. In addition, the Department of Education, through its Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, provides training and technical assistance related to reducing drinking on college campuses. However, there is no coordinated, central mechanism for disseminating research findings or providing technical assistance to grantees or others interested in developing strategies that target underage drinking.