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Parents, Talk to Your College-Bound Youth About the Dangers of Alcohol and Fake ID

Parents’ actions have been a key element in the successful reduction of underage drinking. Now we know that parents’ influence remains strong even with kids that attend college in faraway places.

Dr. Robert Turrisi of Penn State has spent many years working on the issue of college drinking and parental influence. When he considered the idea of urging parents to use their influence over college-aged youth, colleagues thought it wouldn’t work. Many assumed that parents would lose their influence once the kids were away. Fortunately, Dr. Turrisi persisted and now we know that parents retain their influence even when youth are miles away. In addition, we now have resources that can help parents use their influence. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has a program called the Power of Parents. Their website has several very helpful videos to answer parents’ questions and to help them to guide their youth. (See

But now there are more topics that parents need to address relating to campus bars and large parties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, several states have banned alcohol consumption or limited the circumstances where it can be served. States that opened quickly discovered that large, noisy bars with crowds of standing patrons could be “hot spots” for corona virus transmission. Ironically, these same factors also are connected to violence when it occurs in bars. (See “Assaults in and Around Bars, 2nd Edition”, by Michael S. Scott and Kelly Dedel)

While these bars may be shuttered when students return, the crowded alcohol party may be found in rented homes or other venues. Students need to understand the risk of virus transmission and violence in these kinds of settings. And, for those students 21 and older, it is important to recognize that these problems do not exist in all bars. Many licensees carefully follow requirements for hygiene, social distancing and other regulations. Too often all bars are shuttered due to a few “bad apples.”

There is also the issue of fake ID. It is shocking how many ads exist on the internet for fake identification even though there are laws against selling such things. Fake ID is often used by college students to get into popular bars. Youth need to understand the consequences of using a fake ID.

Here are some points to cover:

  1. Stolen Identity: If you buy fake ID from someone locally or on the internet, you’ve just given them the opportunity to use your identity for fraudulent purposes. A stolen identity could impact your credit or cost you in many other ways. As ID expert Susan Dworak says, “To obtain a fake ID some teens naively give up their Personally Identifiable Information (PII), which can subsequently be used for criminal activity, including identity theft.” (See p. 5, “Fake ID and Interstate E-Commerce,” listed in sources.)
  2. If you are caught attempting to use a fake ID for purchase of alcohol, you could be fined or arrested, depending on the jurisdiction’s law. And, a criminal record could jeopardize your future job, scholarship, or housing prospects.
  3. If a bar accepts your ID and enforcement authorities discover it, the business and the server could suffer fines, suspensions or other economic consequences. These businesses have already suffered greatly due to shut-downs and more trouble could permanently close the business.
  4. If you drink in a bar using fake ID and reach intoxication, there are many unpleasant consequences such as a DUI arrest or crash, injury to yourself or others, sexual assault, and academic failure. Underage drinking cost the US $24 billion in economic costs in 2010. We all pay for this via increase to the cost of health care, taxes, and insurance. I also invite parents to learn more about the use of fake ID by reviewing the products of a real expert, Susan Dworak. She is the author of a report funded by the Center for Alcohol Policy entitled, “Fake ID’s In America: Challenges of Identification and the Critical Need for Training.” More recently, she has written, “COVID: New Complications in Checking ID.” She explains why teens favor delivery as a new way to get alcohol! It can be viewed at:

The bottom line is we want our children to be successful. And, a few simple steps can help. Regular communication is important. Dr. Turrisi indicates that students regularly touch base with parents via text message. While parents may fear that regular communication could be viewed as intrusive, youth don’t necessarily think that is the case. Everyone, even youth, value regular signs of caring!


The Power of Parents,,

Underage Drinking, CDC

2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption. Jeffrey J Sacks 1, Katherine R Gonzales 2, Ellen E Bouchery 3, Laura E Tomedi 4, Robert D Brewer

“Fake Alcohol and Interstate E-Commerce,” by Susan Dworak, CEO, Real Identifies, LLC, 2018, Center for Alcohol Policy.

Real Identities,
Article by Susan Dworak:

“Assaults in and Around Bars, 2nd Edition”, by Michael S. Scott and Kelly Dedel, Problem-Oriented Guides for Police, Proem Specific Guides Series, No.1, 2nd-ed

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