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Despite the current societal concern with underage drinking, little attention has been paid to alcohol use within the preadolescent population. This article presents the proceedings of a symposium held at the 2003 Research Society on Alcoholism meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that was organized and chaired by John E. Donovan. The intent of the symposium was to kick start research on alcohol use among elementary school children by reviewing what is known regarding drinking in childhood. Presentations included (1) The Epidemiology of Children's Alcohol Use, by John E. Donovan; (2) The Validity of Children's Self-Reports of Alcohol Use, by Sharon L. Leech; (3) Predicting Onset of Drinking From Behavior at Three Years of Age: Influence of Early Child Expectancies and Parental Alcohol Involvement Upon Early First Use, by Robert A. Zucker; and (4) Parent, Peer, and Child Risk Factors for Alcohol Use in Two Cohorts of Elementary School Children, by Carol J. Loveland-Cherry. Presentations indicated the need for better nationwide surveillance of children's experience with alcohol; suggested that children's reports of their use of alcohol tend to be reliable and valid; supported children's alcohol use schemas and parental drinking and alcoholism at child age three as independent predictors of early onset drinking; and showed that onset of drinking before fourth or fifth grade, peer pressure, and parental norms and monitoring predict elementary student alcohol use and misuse.

(C)2004Research Society on Alcoholism