According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “Underage drinking is a serious public health problem in the United States.” The NIAAA continues, “Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth, and drinking by young people poses enormous health and safety risks.”
Let’s take a closer look at the 2015 underage drinking statistics put together by the NIAAA:
- 33% of 15-year-olds have had at least one alcoholic drink.
- 60% of 18-year-olds have had at least one alcoholic drink.
- 5.1 million young people reported binge drinking at least one time in the previous month.
- 1.3 million young people admitted to binge drinking on 5 or more occasions in the previous month.
- 11% of alcohol consumed in the United States is by young people between the ages of 12 and 20. Why so much? According to the NIAAA, it’s because more than 90% of alcohol consumed by young people is through binge drinking.
For those parents who are not sure what counts as binge drinking, the NIAAA defines it as five or more drinks for males and four or more drinks for females on the same occasion.
Having the Conversation with Your Kids
A parent can set the best example in the world and never drink in front of their kids, or they can be non-drinkers and their teens still develop the habit of underage drinking with their friends.
For many families, preventing underage drinking is a challenge, especially because parents cannot restrict all of their kids’ movements and they can’t be there by their child’s side saying, “Don’t drink that, you’re underage!” That said, here are some tips to talk to your teens about underage drinking and driving:
- Encourage open communication with your teen. If they open up about their friends drinking alcohol, be calm, patient and understanding. You don’t want to scare your child off.
- Educate your teen on the dangers of underage drinking, as well as drunk driving. Here is a brochure on underage drinking. This site is worth checking out too.
- Accept the fact that your teen may drink. Just in case, tell him or her to NEVER drink and drive and tell them they can call you anytime day or night for a sober ride home.
- Educate your child on what happens when people binge drink and they lose control. Find resources on how drinking increases risky behavior, which leads to accidents, unsafe sex, sexual assault, blackouts, and even death.
- Have your child install the Uber and Lyft apps and let them know that if they are ever in a position where they need a ride and can’t reach you, they should call Uber or Lyft. This could come in handy if their friends are trying to drive drunk and your child has no other ride.
- Tell your teen to NEVER get in a car with a friend that has had anything to drink. Teach them to step up and take their impaired friend’s keys or call their parents if necessary. Your child could save lives.
If your child makes a mistake and they are arrested for an underage DUI, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Virginia Landry is board-certified in DUI defense and determined to help your family.