Even the most attentive parents may be shocked to learn how young many kids are when they start drinking -- too often with serious and even fatal results. According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, more than a third of teens have consumed at least one drink by the time they're 15. Nearly two-thirds have drunk alcohol by the time they reach 18.
Of particular risk is binge drinking, which is defined as having five or more drinks at one time. While many people associate that with fraternity and sorority parties, more than 90 percent of the alcohol consumption by those in the 12-to-20 range is through binge drinking. While boys and girls drink approximately the same amount overall, as adolescents get older, males are more likely to binge drink than females.