In 2009, studies showed that 37 percent of 8th graders and 72 percent of 12th graders had tried alcohol, according to the CDC. These statistics can be very scary from the perspective of a parent. Whether your child is in middle or high school, now is the time to talk about and continue talking about the dangers of underage drinking.
Talk to your teen about statistics
Your kids are used to reading facts at school in textbooks. Talk about drinking in factual terms. Make sure that your kids understand that underage drinking, particularly underage binge drinking, contributes to serious injury and death. For example, according to the CDC, in 2008, there were approximately 190,000 emergency rooms visits by underage drinkers. While it may be an uncomfortable topic, discuss the fact that drinking increases the risk of sexual assault. Discuss this topic regardless of your teen’s gender. Visit SAMHSA to discover talking points to share the risks of drinking with your teen.
Do not allow supervised drinking
SAMHSA reports that most underage drinkers get alcohol from a friend or family member. Some parents mistakenly believe that underage drinking is safe if kids are supervised when drinking. Regardless of parental supervision, drinking can still lead to accidents and all known risks. Supervision promotes a sense that underage drinking is safe when it’s not. Never offer your teen a drink or allow teens to drink in your home or another parent’s home. If you have older children, actively discourage them from providing alcohol to your teen. Make sure other parents are aware of your stance.
Support teens at school and at home
Teens need support to say no to underage drinking. Studies by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that parents have the ability to prevent underage drinking by improving parent-child relations in ways such as providing discipline, listening and communicating, monitoring kids and strengthening family bonding. School resources are also important. Encourage your teen to get involved in extra-curricular activities and meaningful relationships with friends. Be available to your teen as a resource for her emotional needs as well as a sounding board to talk about drugs and alcohol.