As Georgia teens count down the days until summer vacation, many parents are strategizing how to keep them busy and out of trouble.
That trouble could involve alcohol. More young people have their first experience drinking alcohol during June or July than any other month of the year — over 11,000 according to estimates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
A leading danger of underage drinking, of course, is driving under the influence. However, binge drinking should also be a safety concern for parents of teens. A whopping 90 percent of teen drinking involves binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined for males as consuming at least five alcoholic drinks and for females as four or more drinks within two hours or less.
Aside from the risk of alcohol poisoning, binge drinking is dangerous because it increases the chances of using illegal drugs, engaging in unsafe sex and becoming the victim of sexual or other physical assault.
Parents may feel helpless in preventing their kids from drinking. However, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has found that teens whose parents have discussed the dangers of underage drinking with them and told them not to drink are 80 percent less likely to drink than their peers.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy has some tips to help parents prevent underage drinking this summer. You’ll notice the first letters spell “summer.”
- Set rules: Tell your kids that drinking alcohol is unacceptable
- Understand and communicate: Let your kids know they can always talk to you
- Monitor activities: Know what your kids have planned for the day and where they’ll be. Have them check in with you regularly
- Make sure you’re involved: Get to know your kids’ friends (and their parents) as well as coaches and anyone your child is spending time with
- Encourage activities: If they don’t have summer jobs, get your kids involved in sports, camp, church groups and/or volunteer work so that they have scheduled, structured activities
- Reserve family time: Kids may not admit it to you, but in surveys they report that they enjoy spending time with their family
If, despite your best efforts, your child ends up in legal trouble for underage drinking, whether it’s a DUI or drinking in public, it’s essential to work to mitigate the impact on his or her future. An experienced Georgia attorney can help.
Source: Next Step Community Solutions, “6 Steps to Prevent Underage Drinking this Summer,” accessed April 12, 2018