Underage drinking: Drunk driving is just the beginning
When it comes to underage drinking, most parents know to talk to their children about the dangers of drunk driving, but a recent study by MADD found that nearly 70% of underage drinking deaths are not traffic-related.
The fatal dangers of underage drinking
MADD National President Jan Withers said it best in a press release when she said, “these data show that taking away the keys truly does not take away all of the risks when it comes to underage drinking.”
The survey found that 32% of these deaths are traffic-related, 30% are homicides, 14% are suicides, 9% are alcohol poisonings and 15% are from other causes.
Talking about the dangers of underage drinking
The most important things you need to remember about underage drinking as a parent are not to ignore it and to have conversations (plural!) about it with your children.
As awkward as it can be to talk about underage drinking with your children, ignoring it is not the answer. All kids are curious about alcohol. Even kids with good grades. Even kids who are responsible and have jobs. Even your kids. If you don’t talk to them about alcohol, someone will and that someone might not give them correct information or information that is not inline with the rules you want your kids to follow.
Talk to your kids about alcohol and keep talking to them about it. Research has found that teens really do listen when their parents say “no” to teen drinking; in fact, teens whose parents told them underage drinking is completely unacceptable are 80% less likely to drink, compared with those whose parents give their teens’ other messages about drinking.
While your teens may be listening, talking about alcohol cannot be a one-time conversation. There is no way to cover everything in one conversation and your children are going to need your support throughout their teen years. They are going to encounter peer pressure and have questions about new things, so you need to keep bringing up alcohol so they have the opportunity to ask their questions and get your support.
Whether they express it or not, your children are counting on you to guide them through the struggles of growing up and to keep them safe, so make sure you teach your them about all the dangers of alcohol, not just drunk driving.