Parent Involvement Prevents Underage Drinking Part I
According to the 2014 Louisiana Caring Community Survey, by the time Baton Rouge’s students are in 8th grade:
- 1 out of every 10 students have used alcohol in the past 30 days;
- 1 out of every 3 students report that their peers have favorable attitudes to drug use; and
- 1 out of every 5 students say their parents have favorable attitudes to drug use.
These results should ring your alarm bells! Underage drinking and drug use harms the developing brain and make it more likely for young people to be injured or assaulted; have unprotected sex; experience academic failure; or become involved with law enforcement. Research also shows that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives (NIAAA).
Parents, the good news is that you are a tremendous force for prevention. The research is clear; young people are much less likely to drink when their parents:
- Have close relationships to them and are actively involved in their lives;
- Message that underage drinking is unacceptable;
- Set clear rules and expectations about drinking; and
- Provide consistent, caring discipline for infractions.
And, while it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that teens are “safe” as long as they drink in your own home or under adult supervision; this may actually encourage underage drinking and result in higher levels of harmful alcohol consequences for young people… and for you. So:
- Get to know your children’s friends;
- Have regular conversations about life in general;
- Remind your teens that most teens do not drink alcohol or use drugs;
- Connect with other parents about sending clear messages about the importance of not drinking alcohol;
- Do not make alcohol available to your children; and
- Supervise all parties to make sure there is no alcohol.