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Teen Drinking Never Safe – Some Points For Parents to Ponder
Thinking of hosting a “safe” teen party where drinks will be served? Think again.
Adults who condone or turn a blind eye to teenage alcoholism risk condemnation from society and a legal system that comes down hard on adults who help minors drink.
In Vancouver, a woman was recently charged with failing to provide all the necessities of life after a 16-year-old girl was found dead on an underage drinking spree that the woman was “accompanying.” In Manitoba, a couple is facing similar charges after a 15-year-old girl drinking in their home wandered outside and froze to death.
These incidents highlight the concerns many parents have about teenage drinking and their role in educating children about responsible alcohol use.
Proponents of supervised drinking say it teaches teenagers how to drink responsibly in a safe environment. Critics say it gives parents a false sense of security and fails to protect teenagers from the dangers associated with underage drinking, including alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, sexual assault and unplanned pregnancies.
Psychologist Michael J. Bradley says that adults who don’t constantly tell kids that drinking is dangerous are adults who quietly tell them that drinking is okay.
“Contrary to myth, children listen when adults speak respectfully,” Bradley writes on his blog.
Bradley, author of “Yes Your Teen is Crazy,” says the teenage brain is prone to addiction to substances like alcohol. He says alcohol is linked to everything bad that happens to teenagers, including car accidents, bad grades, sexual assault, arrests, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and suicide.
“Don’t give drinks to teenagers at prom or any other time,” he writes. “If I offend you with that suggestion; congratulations. You are not among the 33 percent of parents who voluntarily give alcohol to adolescents, nor among the 24 percent who drink with their teenagers.”
· People who start drinking at an early age are more likely to develop alcoholism within 10 years of first drinking. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that 47% of people who started drinking before age 14 developed alcohol dependence, compared to 9% of people who started drinking at age 21 or older.
· A national survey of students from grades 7 to 9 showed that about two-thirds had already consumed alcohol. Another survey of Canadian youth aged 15 to 24 found that 83% of them currently or in the past year consumed alcohol. (Canadian Center on Substance Abuse 2007 report entitled Substance Abuse in Canada: Youth in Focus)
· At the national level, more than one third of students from grades 7 to 9 have consumed alcohol. This number increases to 40% for 15-19 year olds. (Substance abuse in Canada: Youth in focus)
· Alcohol-related trauma is the number one preventable cause of death among young Canadians. Research by Smartrisk found that nearly 45% of all youth deaths were involved in road traffic accidents, and of those nearly 40% were alcohol-related. (Survey Smartrisk 2005)
· An Ontario survey found that about one in seven licensed students drink and drive. Almost 30% of those questioned stated that they drove with a drunk driver. (2005 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey)
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