Underage drinking continues to be a national public health issue, especially among adolescents. An estimated 10 million people younger than the age of 21 in the United States drank alcohol in the past month.
Underage drinking puts children at risk for a variety of short- and long-term physical and emotional problems. It also affects and endangers the lives of those around them.
In the words of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking, “Underage alcohol use is everybody’s problem—and its solution is everybody’s responsibility.”
Most 6-year-olds know that alcohol is only for adults. Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to think differently about alcohol. Many children begin to think underage drinking is OK. Some even start to experiment. In fact, around 80 percent of children feel that parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol. It is never too early to talk to your children about alcohol.
Time for Action:
So what can you do to help prevent your child from using and experimenting with alcohol? Simply talk to them. Talk to them about alcohol, the effects it has on people, the consequences of underage drinking, etc. Parents have a big impact on whether or not their kids drink.Your kids really do hear you. If you talk to your kids directly and honestly, they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol use. When parents know about underage alcohol use, they can protect their children from many of the high-risk behaviors associated with it.
Below you will find a link to some very useful materials about how to prevent underage drinking with your child. This information comes from the “Talk. They Hear You.” campaign from SAMHSA. Please share this information with others to help reduce the frequency of underage drinking.