Getting underage kids to say no to drinking alcohol is understandably one of parents’ biggest concerns. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40 percent of adolescents say they drink alcohol by the time they’re in the eighth grade, and 55 percent admit to being drunk at least once by the time they reach their senior year of high school. The solution? Getting parents to say no to supervised drinking is a smart place to start.
Some people believe that by supervising teens while they’re drinking, the kids will remain safe and learn to drink responsibly. However, that theory doesn’t always prove true.
• Several studies have concluded that supervised drinking doesn’t teach responsibility, foster good decision making, or protect against excessive drinking. Instead it alleviates the teens of responsibility and may even train kids to abuse alcohol and lead to an increase in alcohol consumption.
• Allowing teens to drink when supervised sends a mixed message, and can actually encourage kids to drink. It’s often more effective to talk with teens, listen to what they have to say, share ideas for dealing with stress and peer pressure, and communicate clearly and consistently that there are no exceptions that make underage drinking okay. Research has shown that teens who drink alcohol are more likely than teens that don’t drink to have unprotected sex, have academic or behavioral problems in school, develop a dependence on alcohol, and be victims of violent crime.
• Supervised drinking doesn’t change the fact that being genetically predisposed to alcoholism puts a person at higher risk of developing the disease. And because of their lack of development and maturity, teens are more emotionally and intellectually unprepared to deal with alcoholism than adults.
• Underage drinking is illegal, and supervised drinking can leave parents open to legal action for serving minors and even for criminal behavior that kids are involved in after drinking.
Here at LiveFree! we know it can be difficult to talk to your teens about drinking, drugs, and related issues. That’s why we offer resources to make it easier. Visit us online to learn more about teaching your kids responsibility when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
Underage Drinking (CDC)
Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Abuse (Underage Drinking Research Initiative)