Most parents of teens want their kids to have some free time during the summer. Even if they have a job, summer is a time to enjoy the beach, walk around the harbor or just hang out with their friends and play video games. However, with this free time often comes the potential for underage drinking.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that over 11,000 young people have their first drink in June or July, compared with an average of 5,000 to 9,000 new drinkers in the remaining 10 months.
Obviously, drinking and driving is a serious safety concern for parents of teens. However, there are other dangers associated with underage drinking. Many young people overindulge to the point of binge drinking. Some 90 percent of drinking by teens involves binge drinking. Teens who binge drink increase their likelihood of engaging in unprotected sex or drug use as well as being sexually or physically assaulted.
While parents can’t monitor their teens every moment, they can lower the odds of their teens drinking by talking with them about their expectations. Lay out clear consequences for them if you find out they’ve been drinking. Parents often think that nothing they say influences their kids’ behavior. However, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), teens whose parents have a zero-tolerance policy on drinking are 80 percent less likely to consume alcohol than other kids.
Even though you can’t be with your teens 24/7, and neither you nor your kids would want that, thanks to technology, they can check in with you on a regular basis. You can also make sure that they are where they say they are.
If your kids seemed to have too much spare time last summer, make sure that they’ve got enough scheduled activities to keep them out of trouble this year. Aside from part-time jobs, there are always volunteer activities, summer camp or church groups.
If your teen does get arrested for underage drinking or DUI, it’s essential to ensure that he or she doesn’t go through the legal system alone. As much as you may want your child to deal with the consequences of his or her actions, a record — even one in juvenile court — can impact a teen’s educational and job prospects long past this summer.
Source: Next Step Community Solutions, “6 Steps to Prevent Underage Drinking this Summer,” accessed April 11, 2018