So, Let’s consider: Under age drinking prevention and our kids
OK, we all know that high school and college is the time to do our hell raising, stretch the limits, do things we know we shouldn’t because, well, we’re kids and it’s our time. And given some of the subjects raised during the last Supreme Court nomination fiasco, perhaps we should look at a few things.
One of the things being used to stretch limits and limit rational thinking is alcohol. No, I’m not writing a column about prohibition. I’m writing one because I’m concerned and you should be as well. I just want you to think about your kid’s future…or perhaps even your own…for a few minutes. Gimme that?
OK, so, the concerns are simple. In the last month: over 7 million people under the age of 21 drank. Over 30 percent of high school students drank. 14 percent of high school students binge drank. Over 6 percent drove after drinking alcohol and 17 percent rode with someone that had been drinking. By the time they get out of high school, over 62 percent of high school students and 23 percent of 8th graders will have experimented with alcohol.
Over 4,300 kids will die from alcohol related incidents this year and about 120,000 will be treated in hospital ER’s for alcohol related injuries.
And, if you’re not awake yet, under aged drinking is a direct lead to unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sexual activities, not to mention pregnancies and STD infections. It also directly leads to disruptions in a person’s normal healthy growth, physiological and emotional development and opens them up for physical and sexual assault.
By the way, these aren’t numbers I pulled off the top of my balding head, they’re directly from the CDC.
So, what’s causing some of these things? Well, let’s consider a few things: Major social and/or psychological transitions during middle and high school. Getting a driver’s license leaves one to a much free’er life. There’s also the situations where someone has a history of depression, social or other emotional issues. The ever looming use of alcohol in the family – face it, your kids are mirrors of you, and if you think you’re finding the answers to your problems at the bottom of a glass or bottle, so will they. Then there’s the ever present peer pressure of being a kid – my friends are drinking so I should as well to stay kool.
Many think under aged drinking during this time of development is normal and acceptable. After all, kids need to experiment to learn about life, so they say. Really? How many of you intentionally put your kid’s hand in the fire to prove to them it’s hot and dangerous? Likewise, it’s incredibly important to consider the incredibly negative ramifications and consequences of these actions and is it really worth what your kid may pay for this education either now or in the future?
So, how can we help our kids to have good healthy lives while developing normally mentally, socially and physically by preventing their underage drinking? Let’s look at a few things.
Stay involved in your kid’s lives. Be proactive in developing your relationship with them. They ARE your future, as well as part of all of our futures.
Get to know who their friends are as well as where your kids are and what they’re doing. A major part of successful parenting is proactive management. No, I don’t want you to become a little Hitler in their lives, but but you DO need to be involved and provide direction(s) – and that includes with who they associate with and when.
Part of parental guidance and management is setting and enforcing clear standards – and this includes standards regarding use of alcohol, drugs and other things that are damaging to your kid’s future and life.
Stay away from alcohol yourself. Especially in higher risk scenarios and don’t allow anyone to operate a vehicle or other dangerous activities after drinking.
Don’t allow under aged drinking in your home. Better yet, just don’t have booze in the house if at all possible.
A really important thing to remember is: none of us has a monopoly on brains. If you think you have an alcohol problem or your kid might have a problem get help! Talk to your family doctor, pediatrician, clergy or someone else that’s a medical professional. There’s no dishonor in understanding that we all have limitations and there are times when we need to get help that’s qualified and knows more than we do. Hell, you goto a mechanic when your car needs fixing, so don’t be bashful on other topics as well.
Finally, talk regularly with your kids. Let them know that you care and that you have expectations. Explaining these expectations to them and the “why” behind them today may be the reason that they’re here tomorrow…
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.