Many Americans can’t imagine celebrating the Fourth of July without alcohol. Beer, wine and stronger stuff are staples of most holiday cookouts and parties. Unfortunately, this means easy access to alcohol for teens and even younger kids.
Maybe they’re at a home where parents have relaxed the rules a bit and figure that a wine cooler or two won’t do any harm. Maybe they’ve taken advantage of the parents’ distraction to sneak off with a bottle of whiskey. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility says that 65 percent of young people who engage in underage drinking get their alcohol from family or friends.
Underage drinking can be dangerous for a multitude of reasons, including the possibility of driving under the influence. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), emergency room visits related to underage drinking increase significantly on the Fourth of July.
Parents sometimes feel that nothing they say or do will keep their kids from drinking. However, experts say that parents are the No.1 reason why some kids don’t drink when given the opportunity. As the Fourth approaches, you can use your discussion of holiday plans to talk to your kids (or reinforce what you’ve already told them) about the risks of drinking.
Parents can do more than talk. If you’re having a get-together, be vigilant about keeping alcohol away from minors, and make sure that your adult guests follow your lead. If your kids will be celebrating elsewhere, make sure that whoever’s chaperoning understands that you expect them to have that same vigilance.
Parents can also set an example by how they drink (or don’t) and how they respond to others who have had too much. Offer plenty of nonalcoholic beverages that kids and adults can enjoy. Keep an eye on your adult guests (even the ones who aren’t driving) and cut them off if you think they’ve had too much. By all means, don’t let anyone get behind the wheel if they’re intoxicated.
Even if a minor doesn’t drive under the influence, simply being in possession of alcohol or under the influence in a public place can get a teen arrested. Law enforcement is out in force on holidays like the Fourth. If your child is arrested for underage drinking, don’t take it lightly. A conviction can impact your child’s college prospects and even his or her future post-college.
Source: Nov. 30, -0001