JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Underage drinking is a major economic problem in Mississippi costing the state millions of dollars.
A report from the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center found that risky behaviors associated with youth drinking resulted in $551.9 million in 2007.
Youth violence resulted in $297.4 million, youth traffic crashes caused the state $106.9 million, high risk sex with youth ages 14 to 20 resulted in $49.9 million, youth property crime was at $27.4 million, and the other $70 million came about from other risky behaviors teens do while under the influence.
This study also found that the average age youth started drinking in Mississippi was in the 6th grade at around 12 years old compared to the national average at 13 years.
A coalition of groups met at the capitol on Tues. to get the message out that teen drinking in Mississippi and nationwide is a serious issue.
One group called the Mississippians Advocating Against Underage Drinking (MAAUD), have been outspoken to lawmakers about making stricter policies to prevent teen drinking.
Hilary Bounds, a Senior in high school from Hattiesburg is hoping to encourage other youngsters to avoid drinking too young.
"It's important to be a youth standing up against this because there's so many adults who can stand around and talk about it and try to make these efforts. But if the youth aren't behind it we're not going to get anywhere," Bounds said.
The UDETC study also found that in 2009, twenty-five percent of 8th graders, twenty-nine percent of 9th graders, and thirty-two percent of 10th graders in Mississippi reported drinking alcohol in the past month at the time the teens were surveyed.
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