Policies & Positions that Guide our Dedication to Youth Empowerment
- Alcoholic Beverage Consumption by Underage Youth
- Legalization of Marjuana
- Mental Health
Alcoholic Beverage Consumption by Underage Youth
SADD does not support or condone the use of alcohol by underage young people. The purchase and public possession of alcoholic beverages by anyone under the age of 21 is illegal in all 50 states and yet it still has a destructive effect on so many of today’s youth. SADD and its chapters do not support or condone activities that encourage or enable the use of alcohol by underage young people, such as parties where alcohol is served under the supervision of or with the knowledge or consent of parents or other adults.
Alcohol alters an individual’s vision, reaction times, perception of distance, and judgment of one’s abilities. For adolescents, whose brains are still developing in critical ways, alcohol use makes them more vulnerable to learning and memory impairments. The intake of alcohol is frequently coupled with risky and potentially destructive behaviors, such as physical and emotional violence, rude or thoughtless remarks or actions, sexual mistakes or misjudgments, sexual assaults, and suicide acts and attempts.
SADD believes that young people can have fun, enjoy life, and nurture positive personal relationships without the distraction and distortion of alcohol. SADD seeks to demonstrate positive and attractive alternatives to alcohol and other drug-infused activities for teenagers.
SADD is an inclusive, not an exclusive, organization. SADD recognizes that the pressures on young people to drink, use illicit drugs, and engage in other unhealthy behaviors are strong. SADD seeks not to punish or alienate those students who make unfortunate choices, but rather aims to inform, educate, support, and empower young people to make positive decisions in their lives.
The Purchase and Consumption of Alcohol – SADD supports passage and enforcement of comprehensive drinking age laws that prohibit the purchase, attempt to purchase, or possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. Enforcement efforts should be directed at youth, adult providers, sellers, servers, and others who are in a position to endanger youth. Use of fraudulent identification should be deterred through heightened security measures and through enforcement of the law. Law enforcement officials should join with other members of the community in raising awareness, among both adults and teens, of the dangers of underage drinking and the consequences of violating the law.
Responsible Marketing and Advertising – Teens view large amounts of marketing and advertising materials from the alcohol and tobacco industries. SADD supports efforts to encourage responsible marketing and advertising that does not target teens and is mindful of the impact these materials have on youth attitudes and behaviors.
SADD’s Policy Regarding the Legalization of Marijuana
SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) is the nation’s premier youth health and safety organization with thousands of chapters in high schools, middle schools, and colleges across the United States. Founded in 1981 in Wayland, Massachusetts, as Students Against Driving Drunk, SADD chapters now address a wide variety of youth health and safety issues. SADD now works to address the issues of teen traffic safety, substance abuse, and personal health and safety.
SADD firmly opposes the legalization or decriminalization of possession of marijuana. SADD takes this position for a number of reasons. Legalization would encourage increased use, including among teenagers. Legalization also promotes the belief that marijuana is harmless, which is not the case. The levels of THC in marijuana have increased over the years and the research is not available to tell us what the increase has on the body systems. The developing brains of teenagers are susceptible to negative changes as a result of drug and alcohol use, and these changes can be permanent and severe.
We are also concerned about the danger of marijuana users’ driving while under the influence of the drug. Studies prove conclusively that marijuana has an adverse effect on driving ability and concentration. Teen drivers are already at much higher risk for crashes due to inexperience, and legalizing marijuana will only increase this risk further. SADD research has shown that teens tend to underestimate the dangers of drugged driving, and driving after drugging is more prevalent (68 percent of those who use drugs regularly) than driving after drinking (47 percent of those who drink regularly). Fifteen percent of teens report driving under the influence of marijuana.
SADD is an inclusive, not an exclusive, organization. SADD recognizes that the pressures on young people to drink, use drugs, and engage in other unhealthy behaviors are strong and, on occasion, may be difficult to resist. SADD seeks not to punish or alienate those students who make unfortunate choices, but rather aims to inform, educate, support, and empower young people to make positive decisions in their lives.
Graduated Driver’s Licensing Laws – Studies have shown that young drivers benefit from a gradual introduction to the privileges of driving an automobile. SADD supports graduated driver’s licensing laws that establish three phases for young novice drivers: the permit phase during which drivers can only operate a vehicle with an adult, the provisional phase during which drivers are subject to certain (e.g., night-time) restrictions, and the unrestricted phase when all conditions have been met.
SADD supports additional penalties within these laws for offenses involving impaired driving.
Primary Safety Belt Laws – Studies have shown that states that pass primary safety belt laws realize significant improvement in safety belt use. SADD supports primary safety belt laws that require the use of occupant restraints by vehicle occupants and permit enforcement of the law without the need to observe or cite the driver for another offense.
Anti-Violence Programming– SADD supports funding for anti-violence programming in schools K-12, including programming that addresses issues such as hazing, bullying, relationship abuse, and gang activity.
Comprehensive Approach to Adolescent Mental Health– SADD supports funding for mental health services.