Parents of teenagers are used to worrying. Typically, they are concerned about their children’s grades, friends, activities, and health. But one important issue that parents may not worry enough about is underage drinking. Teenage alcohol use is a serious problem, and many parents don’t believe that their children will ever engage in such dangerous behavior, but statistics say otherwise.
In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), every day in the United States, about 4,750 children under the age of 16 have their first full drinks of alcohol. Additionally, in 2014, more than 1.6 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 reported they had driven while under the influence of alcohol in the past year. This shocking number represents about 4.4% of people between these ages. If you don’t believe your teen is at risk for drinking and driving, you are dangerously mistaken.
The Shocking Statistics That All Parents Need to Know
The good news is that adolescents and young adults drink less often than adults do. The bad news, however, is that they often consume more alcohol than their older counterparts, frequently consuming five or more drinks in one sitting. Although the rates of binge and heavy alcohol use among people under the age of 21 have declined from 2012 to 2014, over 5 million youths between the ages of 12 and 20 reported being binge drinkers, and 1.3 million considered themselves heavy drinkers.
Alcohol and teenagers is a dangerous mix. In addition to creating many major health problems, drinking is also responsible for:
- Sending 189,000 young people to the emergency room for injuries and other conditions
- Contributing to the likelihood of risky sexual behavior
- Killing more than 4,300 underage youth each year
- Increasing the risk of changing brain development that may have life-long effects, as well as the risk of memory problems, physical and sexual assault, suicide and homicide, and using and misusing other drugs
- Causing major auto accidents, which often result in death and life-changing injuries
Parents Play an Important Role in Their Children’s Attitudes About Alcohol
Parents often believe that peer pressure plays the biggest role in whether their children will decide to drink alcohol or not, but the truth is, they are who their children mostly look to for examples about the acceptance of alcohol. From the time they are little until when they are grown, children rely on their parents for answers to a majority of the problems they face, including the temptation to engage in alcohol abuse.
Your own behavior towards alcohol plays a major role in the way your children will behave towards it. You can serve as a positive role model in regards to drinking by:
- Drinking responsibly yourself by not drinking too much or too often
- Keeping yourself out of high-risk situations when it comes to alcohol, such as drinking and driving
- Not giving alcohol to your teens
- Getting help for an alcohol addiction if you feel you have a problem
Parents can also prevent the tragedy of losing a child to drunk driving by knowing exactly where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Additionally, prohibiting them from attending parties and functions where alcohol is served, providing options for them so that they don’t have to ride with someone who is intoxicated, and most importantly, talking to their children about the dangers of alcohol can stop every parent’s nightmare from occurring. Assuming that they already know just how dangerous drinking is, or relying on others to provide that information for you, is dangerous and risky. Be honest and open with your teen about the seriousness of the situation, and you may prevent a tragedy in the future.
Underage Drinking and Driving Can Claim Lives
If you or a loved one was the victim of an accident caused by a drunk driver, the attorneys of Wayne Wright want to help fight for your rights. Schedule your free consultation to speak with an attorney about your situation by calling 800-237-3334.