School policies are formal regulations which provide for sanctions against youth for the possession of alcohol on school property. The penalties are usually a part of school policies which ban or provide restrictions for possession or provision of alcohol on school property. Many schools are adopting zero-tolerance policies. These policies mandate predetermined consequences or punishments for specific serious student infractions. The vast majority of elementary and secondary schools have alcohol-related policies and the majority of schools have adopted zero tolerance policies. When alcohol violations are detected, suspension and expulsion are the typical responses. However, it is presently unknown what effect, if any, school sanctions have on the prevalence of underage drinking either at the individual or school population levels, whether schools are an appropriate venue for addressing this behavior, or, when compared to other possible venues, whether schools are better, worse, or equally effective in deterring or modifying this behavior.
Although the research on the topic is limited, there are some inferences that can be drawn about efforts to deter underage drinking. For example, all states and a number of municipalities have some type of prohibition against youth drinking, although these prohibitions vary from state to state. The nature and severity of the sanctions associated with violations of these prohibitions vary consider- ably across jurisdictions. It is also apparent that for a variety of reasons, enforcement of these laws is relatively sporadic and inconsistent. In addition, although all schools in this country have an alcohol policy, these policies also vary considerably.