Graduation and summer time fun are fast approaching. This a great time of year but for some, the assumption is made that graduation and summers also mean the so-called rite of passage for our youth to drink alcohol. Some parents even believe that they are being super mom or dad by making sure the party is at their house and they are “supervising”. Simply taking away the car keys does not solve the problems related to underage drinking. The truth is that most of our teens do not drink alcohol. Some youth do and we at YouthThink are deeply concerned about these youth. Stop and think for a moment, mom or dad … before you host an underage drinking party or allow your child to attend a drinking party…what are the possible consequences. Parents play a major role in their children’s choices about alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Parents who host lose the most.
Hosting a graduation party or other type of event where alcohol is available to underage youth is illegal and can pose serious health risks and legal ramifications for everyone involved. Parents should understand that taking away the car keys does not solve all of the problems related to underage drinking. Every day at least six youth under 21 die from non-driving alcohol-related causes, such as drowning and suicide; sexual activity and delinquent behaviors also increase with underage drinking. There are many health-related consequences of youth consuming alcohol including negative effects on brain development, deviant behavior including stealing and skipping school and a greater risk of becoming alcohol-dependent later in life.
Parents who knowingly allow a person under age 21 to remain on their property while consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages can be prosecuted and face a jail sentence, fines, and loss of property.
Adults providing alcohol to underage youth send a mixed message and can only add to a teenager’s confusion about the acceptability of drinking. They are also sending the message to teens that they do not have to obey the law. Research shows that most teenagers appreciate it when their parents set boundaries and establish expectations that are fairly enforced. Our youth deserve to live and grow to adulthood in an environment where alcohol is not misused. Let’s be unified in our message, and host alcohol-free parties with plenty of fun activities to show our youth that we care about their future.