Parents of kids starting college in the fall no doubt have some concerns about their exposure to alcohol. Even though drinking is against the law for anyone under 21, parents know from their own college days that alcohol is still readily available.
Whether they’re attending one of Maryland’s many fine colleges or universities or they’re clear across the country, they’ll be living away from home. That means that as a parent, you won’t know how late they’re out, where they are or whom they’re with. They have to learn to set personal boundaries and rules for themselves.
College provides a perfect storm for problem drinking and drug use. Kids revel in their newfound freedom. They also want to make friends and fit in. They may have been extremely popular in high school, but now they’re just another face in the crowd. This can lead them to succumb to peer pressure to drink or use drugs. Further, if they don’t have much (or any) experience with alcohol, they don’t know what their tolerance level is. They may try to “keep up” with far more experienced drinkers.
For many kids away from home for the first time, drinking is a way to deal with the stress and emotions of college. The workload and competition with fellow students can be overwhelming, even for kids who got straight A’s in high school. Further, they may be dealing with homesickness for their family, pets, friends and simply their home, their bedroom and their old life.
When you talk to your college-bound child about the dangers of alcohol, it’s important to stress not just the risk of alcohol-related accidents (which claim more than 1,800 lives every year). Drinking can put them at risk of being a victim or even an assailant.
There are some 97,000 annual reports of date rape or sexual assault by victims who were drinking. Of course, the real number is likely far higher. Every year, nearly 700,000 people report being assaulted by a college student who was drinking.
It’s crucial that your child feel safe telling you if he or she is arrested for underage drinking, DUI or other alcohol-related offense so that you can seek experienced legal guidance. This can make all the difference in minimizing the impact of the arrest on his or her future.