Citing the fact that spring and summer’s arrival also ushers in that period (May – August) when the greatest number of U.S. teen traffic deaths occur, a Washington-metropolitan area alcohol education group is urging for parental involvement to combat both teen drinking and drunk driving this prom and graduation season, as well as during the summer.
The Falls Church-based, nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is providing area parents of teens with “Ten Tips for Parents to Prevent Underage Drinking.” WRAP’s tips, designed to inform Greater Washington parents on how best to deter teen drinking during the dangerous summer months, include:
Know the Facts … Underage drinking can lead to substantial harm including traffic crashes, violent crime, property crime, unintentional injury and at-risk sex. In addition, motor vehicle crashes still remain the leading cause of death of young people in the U.S.
Talk with Your Teen … Studies time and time again have confirmed that parents can have a significant – if not most significant – impact as to whether their teens will engage in risky behaviors including the use of alcohol. Have open, caring, thoughtful, ongoing conversations on alcohol with your teen. Create clear family rules and expectations by setting a “no alcohol” rule and supporting such an environment with “zero-tolerance” consequences if such rules are broken.
Foster Self Confidence … Instill self-confidence in your teen by talking with them about peer pressure. At some point, your teen will be offered alcohol. As the National Institutes of Health points out, “teens say they prefer quick ‘one-liners’ that allow them to dodge a drink without making a big scene.”
Lay Down the Law … The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia all have zero tolerance laws making it a crime to possess, purchase or consume alcohol if you are under 21.
Beware of Your Civil Liability … In most cases, it’s unlawful for parents to allow their children’s friends to consume alcohol in their home. If these same “friends” are later involved in a crash, the providing parents may be responsible for injuries, property damages and wrongful death. These same parents may also face criminal charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
In 2015, 26-percent of young drivers (ages 15 to 20 years old) killed in U.S. crashes had been drinking (with a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] level of 0.01 grams/deciliter or higher according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). That same year, 21-percent of young drivers killed in U.S. traffic crashes has a BAC of 0.08 g/dL or higher.
According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly half (48.4 percent) of U.S. high school seniors don’t view binge drinking on weekends as carrying a great risk. In addition and while alcohol use rates have declined consistently in the last half-decade, alcohol is still the drug of choice for all three surveyed age groups (8th, 10th and 12th grade students).
In addition to its updated tips for parents to deter underage drinking and drunk driving this summer, WRAP also encourages parents to be aware of social networks their children use. Party promoters often prey on youth via social media sites and by promising a good time and access to alcohol for a fee, according to WRAP.
For more information, visit www.wrap.org.