The Bear River Health Department is celebrating Parents Empowered month in hopes of reaching parents with an important message about preventing underage drinking. In Utah, many kids now begin drinking alcohol in elementary school, and binge drinking can become a common activity by the time they reach 10th grade. Because the brain is still developing at this age, alcohol consumption is very dangerous.
“Believe it or not, teens listen to their parents more than anybody else! In a survey teens reported that the number one reason they choose not to drink alcohol was parental disapproval,” said Cathy Lloyd, Prevention Coordinator for the Bear River Health Department. Current local statistics from the Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) survey show a continued decrease in underage drinking again this year; however, statistics show a slight increase in binge drinking. Of the youth who reported drinking alcohol, 60% reported having used at home or someone else’s home without a parent’s permission and 37% said they had used in their home with a parent’s permission.
Education is not enough to prevent kids from drinking. There are constant pressures to drink alcohol. In addition to media advertising and peer pressure, the brain area that promotes risk-taking and impulsivity develops early in a teen, while the area of the brain that promotes self-control and good judgment isn’t fully developed until much later. Talk to your kids while they are still young.
Parents who talk to and encourage their children, set clear rules and expectations, and are actively involved in their kids’ lives have a powerful influence on their children’s decision to stay alcohol-free.
For more information on underage drinking and the proven skills to prevent it, log onto parentsempowered.org.