by Parent Up Staff
As adults we have the opportunity, and the obligation, to do everything we can to make sure our young people have healthy and bright futures. Adults working together can support policies, attitudes, and actions that prevent underage drinking and help youth thrive. Read on to see how you can help:
Why should we care about preventing underage drinking?
The teen years are a sensitive time for brain development and underage drinking only adds fuel to the fire. The years between childhood and adulthood aren’t the easiest and youth need help from adults along the way. Underage drinking and teen drug use can negatively affect young people’s school performance, future job prospects, and physical and mental health, damaging their lives well into adulthood. 90% of adults with substance use disorders started using alcohol or other drugs in their teen years, so it’s important to take early and ongoing action.
What impacts a teen’s likelihood to drink alcohol?
While kids are the ones who take the drink, there are a lot of factors outside the teen that lead to this decision. When alcohol is more available, youth are more likely to drink. Also, when teens think it is “ok” or “cool,” or the adults around them allow minors to drink, they are more likely to drink alcohol. Finally, when teens think they are safe from any harm, like legal trouble, we see rates of teen drinking increase. Each of these factors can be addressed at a community level and Parent Up asks for all adults to help protect our youth.
What steps can adults take to help reduce underage drinking in our community?
Adults can help reduce the number of teens drinking by:
- Refusing to provide alcohol to minors—even during special occasions. When adults refuse, fewer kids use.
- Letting the youth in your life know you care about their mental well-being. If they’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or bored, adults can help find healthy solutions for relief rather than them turning to alcohol or other drugs.
- Setting clear, no alcohol use expectations with the kids in your life. When adults set boundaries and stand firm, kids feel safe and know what to do when peer pressure mounts.
- Making a game plan with the teens in your life before they go out or spend time with friends, so they know what is expected and how to refuse if alcohol is offered.
At Parent Up, our hope is to help equip parents and other caring adults with tools and resources to help prevent substance use of any kind by youth. Thank you for caring and thanks for taking action to help! For more tips, tools, and resources on youth alcohol use or preventing any drug use with our teens, feel free to explore around ParentUpKC.com!