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Teenage Drinking

Setting a Good Example

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Teenage Drinking

Alcohol addicts and kills.

Photo © Christy Thompson
Attitudes Towards Drinking Have Changed.

Back in the 60s and 70s many parents, including this one, thought nothing of allowing their children to have wine or beer at meals. I felt then that my children should learn to drink responsibly. After all, what's the harm in enjoying a glass of wine or a beer with a meal. Were we setting a good example? Hindsight tells me unequivocally "No!"

Set a Good Example

The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information has this to say: "Set a good example for your child. Think about what you say and how you act in front of him. Your child learns social skills and how to deal with stress by listening to and watching you. Do not take part in illegal, unhealthy, or dangerous practices related to alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs or he may believe that, no matter what you say, these practices are OK. Be careful what you say about mental illness and people with mental illness. Careless statements can lead to stigma, discrimination, and a lack of tolerance."

The pressures on young people to be cool and attractive force them to make some pretty tough choices. The problem intensifies in a private school environment. Why? Because many private school students come from very wealthy families where there is plenty of disposable income. Combine that with a dysfunctional family situation, loneliness, adolescence and academic pressures and you have the right mix of pressures to ignite the substance abuse flame. Alcohol is easy to obtain, so it is the pain killer of choice.

Too Many Mothers Don't Know Their Children Drink

The Century Council, a distilling industry trade association, commissioned a study which revealed these shocking facts.

"Mothers significantly underestimate daughter’s experience with alcohol

• 16% of 13-15 year old girls say they drink with friends, only 5% of their mothers think their daughters are drinking;
• 30% of 16-18 year old girls say they drink with friends, only 9% of their mothers think their daughters are drinking;
• 51% of 19-21 year old girls say they drink with friends and only 32% of their mothers thought they were drinking.

Alarmingly, mothers say underage drinking is acceptable

• Nearly half (49%) of mothers of teenage girls say it is okay for their daughters to drink;
• 38% of mothers say it is okay for their daughters to drink on special occasions;
• 21% of mothers say it is okay to drink under parental supervision at home;
• 20% of mothers say drinking alcohol is a natural part of growing up."

Binge Drinking

What is binge drinking? Excessive drinking. You drink a case of beer as opposed to a glass of beer. Teens will binge drink at a party because they assume that a couple of drinks won't hurt and they don't feel it. Partying creates the illusion that they are having fun and the alcohol enhances that fun. Binging produces devastating effects depending on the person's physiology, how tired he is, what he's eaten, how quickly he's consumed alcohol and the amount he has consumed. That's why as a parent you need to be vigilant when your child attends a weekend party. Encourage him not to drink. Let him know that you are available at any time to come and pick him up. Children need to know that a real friend and a good parent never does anything to jeopardize the welfare and safety of another.

Once more, you and I as parents must set the example which will allow them to grow up to make those choices sensibly. Impress this on your children: Alcohol ruins lives. It destroys relationships. It controls lives. It saps strength. It bankrupts finances.

Social Host Laws

Many parents allow their teenage children to drink at home. They feel that only a parent can teach his child how to drink responsibly. Sadly they are ignore the legal liability issues. Over 22 states have enacted social host legislation which make you liable if you serve underage persons alcohol and they cause injury to others while under the influence. Matters not if it is in your own home or in a public gathering such as a reception.

Read Exeter's instructions to parents regarding the use of alcohol at private parties. It is fairly typical. If you serve alcohol to underage persons in New Hampshire you risk arrest and prosecution, no matter what your social or financial status is.

North Carolina has had a social host law on its books since the 1992. link url=http://www.socialhostliability.org/]Social Host Liability lays out some truly sobering facts. MADD offers a list of states which have enacted social host laws. It also offers some compelling information and facts to help you understand the issue. You need to thoroughly understand the issue and believe in your stand on it in order to convince your young people.

Talk to Your Teenagers

Talk to your teenagers about drinking. Cite the statistics. Give them examples of how alcohol has ruined lives and careers. Show them how alcohol can kill them. Show them how they under the influence of alcohol can kill others. Let them know that most schools will not tolerate an infraction of their rules on substance abuse. Zero tolerance means exactly that.

Discouraging teenage drinking is something we adults have to do. Our children's futures are at stake.

Resources

Facts For Teens
The Grim Neurology Of Teenage Drinking
Teenage Drinking Key Findings from the American Medical Association
Teen Drinking Statistics
Underage Drinking Research
Colleges Respond to Student Binge Drinking: Reducing Student Demand or Limiting Access

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