19 May 6 steps to prevent underage drinking this summer
Summer is a time for kids to experience freedom from school and spend time with friends and family. However, extra free time, lenient rules and less oversight also increases underage drinking.
A survey by Caron Treatment Centers reveals 61 percent identified summer as the season kids are most likely to engage in underage drinking.
Research also shows more youth use alcohol for the first time during summer months than any other time of year.
On an average day in June or July, more than 11,000 youth start drinking alcohol. For other months, the average is between 5,000 and 9,000 new users per day, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Alcohol initiation during the long summer break is not the only concern for adults.
The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, summer vacation, has been called “The 100 Deadliest Days”. Nine of the 10 deadliest days for youth on U.S. highways fall between May and August.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that during May, June, July and August, nearly twice as many teens die in highway crashes every day when compared to the rest of the year.
Outside of fatal car crashes, underage drinking has serious consequences.
When teens drink, they are binge drinking 90 percent of the time. While binge drinking, teens are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, are at an increased risk for physical and sexual assault, are most likely to use an illicit drug and can have alcohol poisoning.
To prevent underage drinking during this summer, parents can implement the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s tips for S-U-M-M-E-R:
Be clear about a zero-tolerance policy against underage drinking and explain the consequences for breaking the rules. A survey from Mothers Against Drunk Driving showed that teens whose parents tell them that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80 percent less likely to drink than teens whose parents give them other messages about underage drinking.
Despite the fact that many parents think their kids don’t listen to them, parental disapproval is still the number one reason youth choose not to drink alcohol.
Understand and communicate
Keep lines of communication open. Significant parent involvement is the most important factor in preventing drug use. Other adults can also provide support and encouragement.
Know each day what your child has planned, where they will be, with whom, and what their schedule is. Have planned “check-ins.” Cell phones make this easy. Unmonitored kids are four times more likely to engage in drug use or other risky behaviors
Make sure you stay involved
Know who their friends are and have a relationship with them. Talk to other parents, coaches and adults involved in your kid’s life. Without being intrusive, stay connected to let your child know you care.
Encourage involvement in summer activities:
Kids who are involved in Scouts, 4-H, sports, church or other youth activities have a focus for the summer. Other ideas: a job, camp or volunteer activity.
Reserve time for family
Even though kids may seem like they don’t want to spend time with their family, it is beneficial to have meals together, take a vacation and do other family activities. In a survey, when asked “What makes you happy?” The most frequent answer was spending time with family.