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Source Investigation Training (Reducing Social and Third Party Access)

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A substantial portion of alcohol obtained by underage persons is from social sources (friends, parties, homes, etc.) and other persons who purchase alcohol and provide it to underage persons (both persons themselves under the legal purchase age and persons who themselves are of legal age). The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, has created a guide for reducing alcohol access by youth (OJJDP, 1999). The highest priorities recommended by OJJDP is a compendium of environmental strategies including “shoulder taps” and compliance checks. Shoulder taps occur when an underage person asks another person to purchase alcohol on their behalf. These are common means by which adolescents obtain alcohol (e.g., Jones-Webb et al., 1997a, 1997b; Smart, Adlaf, & Walsh, 1996; Wagenaar et al., 1993, 1996), in part because young people believe it to be less risky than purchasing alcohol themselves. Underage persons themselves are breaking the law through this purchase, even if they do not consume the alcohol. Adults of legal purchase age are also breaking the law by purposefully purchasing alcohol for a young person. Shoulder tap interventions occur when an underage person or a person who appears to be underage age, stand outside a licensed alcohol outlet and approach an older person to request that he/she purchase alcohol for them. In such cases, the potential buyer may be offered a small “fee” for making this purchase. If the older person actually makes the alcohol purchase and gives it to the youth, then they can be arrested or cited by the police.