New Research Looks At Drinking Age and Incidents Of Crime

Prince George, BC, Canada / CKPG-TV
New Research Looks At Drinking Age and Incidents Of Crime

A new study from the Northern Medical Program at UNBC shows that minimum legal drinking age legislation in Canada can have a major effect on crimes committed by young adults.
Dr. Russ Callaghan and his research team looked at national Canadian police-reported crime statistics between 2009-2013, and found that release from drinking-age restrictions was associated with increases in perpetration of any crime in Canada by 7.6% among males and by 10.4% among females.
In addition, the perpetration of violent crimes (including physical or sexual assault, and robbery) increased by 7.4% for males and 14.9% for females. Increases were also observed in nuisance crimes, such as disorderly conduct and property crimes, among both males and females.
“As soon as youth are given legal access to alcohol, there are immediate effects on their involvement in police-reported criminal behaviours,” says Dr. Russ Callaghan, the study`s lead author and an associate professor in the Northern Medical Program. “The number of police-reported criminal incidents involving both male and females who have just reached the legal drinking age rises dramatically, a pattern which illustrates the impact that alcohol-related legislation can have on crime including violent crimes and overall public health.
“Our research provides current information for both Canadian and international policymakers to draw on when considering alcohol policy reform and the effectiveness of MLDA legislation. Drinking-age laws can have major consequences extending to public safety. They are an important part of contemporary alcohol-control policies designed to limit alcohol-related harms among young people, including severe harms which may result from the perpetration of violent crimes.”
This isn’t the last of Dr. Callaghan’s work. He says the next stage is to look at the legal drinking age as it pertains to victimization.

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