Most of us wouldn’t think that it is appropriate to give alcohol to children. A new study, however, pegs parents as one of the main providers of alcohol to teenagers. The study, reported by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) tells that 709,000 children ages 12 to 14 drink alcohol in this country. In a one-month period, the study found that more than 200,000 of those kids were given the alcohol by a parent or other adult family member.
Almost all of the kids who get their hands on alcohol get it for free; from family members, non-relative adults, other underage kids, or sneaking it from home. Only 6.6 % of kids actually purchase alcohol from bars or stores. This study suggests that the focus for prevention needs to be on adults who think it is ok to give alcohol to minors, rather than in the liquor stores and bars.
Providing Positive Guidance to Teens
Parents may come up with a variety of reasons why they give their own kids alcohol. The main argument is that if the kids are drinking at home, at least the parent knows what their child is up to and that they are safe. Not only is this an unhealthy approach to take because of the long-term consequences of underage drinking, but it is really a cowardly attitude. Parents who say they do it because they know their teen will be drinking somewhere so why not have it be at home, have already lost the battle with their teen. We shouldn’t ever assume that our teens are going to drink – we should keep working to educate and inform our teens about the dangers of underage drinking in the hope that they listen and take heed. Let’s not take the easy way out and accept any teen’s drinking behavior. Parents need to set rules, be aware of what their child is up to, and follow through to make sure they are listening.
Dangers of Underage Drinking
It’s never too late to talk to our teens about the dangers of drinking. Parents who allow their 12 to 14 year olds to drink, even under supervision, are setting them up for problems in the future. Kids who drink before they are 15 are five times more likely to have a real problem with drugs or alcohol before age 21. Drinking is dangerous, and parents who allow their child to drink at home can expect that they are going to do it other places also. After all, in the eyes of a child, if mom or dad let them do it, it must be ok. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 5,000 youngsters and teens under the age of 21 die each year as a result of underage drinking, including deaths from falls, burns and drowning. Frequent binge drinkers who are underage are also more likely to get D’s and F’s in school and to engage in risky sexual and drug-taking behavior. (1)
Our kids are influenced by a lot of negative things in this world. Advertising, friends, and celebrities can all glamorize things that are harmful. Parents need to take care that they are not adding to the negative influence by providing alcohol to their kids.