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Parents aren't powerless to prevent underage drinking

Underage drinking spikes in the summer as kids have more free time and less supervision. It's also the season when teens are most likely to engage in underage drinking for the first time -- up to twice as many as in other months.

Of course, drunk driving is one of the primary dangers of underage drinking. Almost double the number of teens are killed in crashes between May and August than in other months.

However, young people put themselves at risk even if they don't get behind the wheel. Teens engage in binge drinking 90 percent of the time when they consume alcohol. That can lead to alcohol poisoning and put them at greater risk of sexual or physical assault. They're also more likely to take drugs while binge drinking.

Parents can't be with their kids every minute. However, they can take steps to help keep their teens from becoming a casualty of the "100 deadliest days" between Memorial Day and Labor Day for young people.

Involvement is key. Even though the teen years are a time of breaking away from parents, it's crucial to know what they're doing. Find out what your kids have planned each day, who they'll be with and where they're going. Have designated times for them to call or text you to check in.

If your kids have too much free time on their hands, get them involved in something they'll enjoy. Camps, sports, church youth groups and volunteering are just a few ideas.

Communication is essential. Studies have actually shown that having dinner together as a family can keep kids out of trouble. Family vacations, even weekend trips, can help you stay in your kids' lives and keep your lines of communication open.

Finally, talk with your kids about underage drinking. Don't just assume they know you disapprove. Tell them you have a zero-tolerance policy and the consequences of not following it. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, teens whose parents prohibit them from drinking are 80 percent less apt to engage in it than those whose parents haven't discussed it.

An underage drinking arrest, even if a teen wasn't driving, can impact his or her educational, athletic, scholarship and job opportunities. You may want your child to face the consequences of his or her actions. However, it's important to seek legal guidance to help mitigate the impact of the arrest on your child's future.

Source: Next Step Community Solutions, "6 Steps to Prevent Underage Drinking this Summer," accessed July 05, 2017