According to a government report, underage drinking over the Fourth of July weekend results in double the number of boys admitted to the emergency room.
The study showed that during the 2009 Fourth of July weekend, there were an average of 622 emergency room visits per day related to drinking by boys between the ages of 12 and 20. There were an average of 304 such visits per day during the rest of that month, according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
There were 320 visits per day over that holiday weekend related to drinking by underage girls, up from that month's daily average of 273, the report said.
So while there is also an increase in the number of underage girls admitted to the emergency room over the 4th of July weekend, those numbers didn't see the dramatic spike that the boys' numbers did.
"This study sheds light on the grim truth that holidays are too often marked by a surge in underage drinking – turning what should be a time of celebration into a time of tragedy," said SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde. "Clear parental disapproval of alcohol use by their children can assist in preventing underage drinking."
What I want to know is why there would be such a dramatic increase in the number of underage boys who are spending this particular holiday weekend drinking so excessively that they require emergency care, while the numbers of women who doing exactly the same thing seems comparatively small.
Could it be that underage boys are under more pressure to drink –-especially at social functions— in order to prove their virility and "maturity", whereas women are often given the double-edge sword message of "ladies don't drink" quickly followed by "don't be so uptight. It's just beer" and thus may be more likely to find themselves caught in the middle?
Even if the underage girls feel a similarly strong drive to dive into excess —either because they want to or because they feel they need to— these urges may be kept in check by the idea that drinking excessively isn't "ladylike" and the fear that they'll be judged harshly if they cross that invisible line.
In other words, this confusing double standard could quite possibly be one of the things keeping young women slightly safer than young men –- in this regard, at least.