Graduates Need Your Guidance, Not Your Alcohol

Some parents rationalize that by allowing teens to drink in their homes, they can keep teens safe. Or they may remember sharing a few beers with their friends on the weekend before they were of legal drinking age and consider it “normal” teen behavior.

The reality is that underage drinking is never safe. Teenagers who drink are at higher risk for alcohol abuse, can permanently damage brain development and have higher rates of accidental death. While taking the car keys may keep them safe from motor vehicle accidents, it does not address many other dangers, including accidental death from alcohol poisoning, injury or drowning; unplanned or unprotected sexual activity; violence; and criminal activity. Also, studies show that youth who begin drinking alcohol early in life are at four times greater risk of alcoholism later in life.

It may be tempting to think of your new grad as an adult, but your teen still depends on you to keep him or her safe and healthy.

  • Talk to your teen. Don’t assume he or she knows how destructive alcohol can be. Establish clear expectations and consequences.
  • Plan ahead. Know their plans – where they plan to be and when. Verify with other parents that alcohol will not be allowed. Ensure your teen has a safe ride home.
  • Stay up til your teens return home or have them wake you upon their return. A staggering 70% of teens say they would be less likely to drink alcohol if they knew their parents would be waiting up for them.
  • Set a good example. If you drink, use alcohol moderately and model good behavior. If you keep alcohol in your home, keep track of the supply or keep it locked.
  • Provide fun, alcohol-free opportunities and activities for teens.

Not only is it unsafe and unhealthy for teens to drink alcohol, it’s against the law. Adults who knowingly provide alcohol to minors not only risk arrest, but also civil litigation. California’s new Teen Alcohol Safety Act now holds adults liable if they knowingly provide alcohol to a minor and it results in injury or death.

Teen drinking affects all of us – teens, families and our community at large. We want to hear your ideas about how to prevent underage drinking in Shasta County. What works? What doesn’t? Have you heard about the Teen Alcohol Safety Act? Do you think holding adults accountable for teen drinking accidents will prevent underage drinking in our community?

To learn more about underage drinking prevention efforts in Shasta County, visit www.thinkagainshasta.info.

Donnell Ewert, MPH, is director of Shasta County Public Health. While at Wheaton College, he participated in the Human Needs and Global Resources program, which included a seven-month internship in Honduras – an experience that sparked his interest in public health. He earned his master’s degree from UCLA after evaluating a program that used goats to increase the nutritional intake of malnourished children. He worked briefly as a health educator with migrant farm workers in Virginia before becoming an epidemiologist for the health departments in Los Angeles and the state of Indiana. Donnell came to Shasta County Public Health as an epidemiologist in 1999, after doing humanitarian health work in Kazakhstan. He has been the department director since 2007. He and his wife, Mary, have two teenage daughters.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Avatar
, MPH, is director of Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency. While at Wheaton College, he participated in a Human Needs and Global Resources program, which included a seven-month internship in Honduras – an experience that sparked his interest in public health. He worked briefly as a health educator with migrant farm workers in Virginia before becoming an epidemiologist in Los Angeles and Indiana. He came to Shasta County Public Health as an epidemiologist in 1999, and became HHSA Director in November 2012. He and his wife, Mary, have two daughters.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar Allyson Baldwin says:

    Just wanted to point out that alcohol related traffic collisions are not "accidents" because they could have been avoided.

  2. Avatar Elizabeth Earnest says:

    I don't think holding adults accountable will prevent under-age drinking any more than any of the other drinking laws already in place do. Personal choice is at reign here. I think the best method of prevention is education. I personally believe that all high-school students should do community service at the homeless shelters and hospitals. They should be exposed first hand to some of the consequences of poor choices. Parents, teachers, friends must work to be good examples. News coverage of the devastation that occurs as a result of poor choices, assemblies telling the stories of what happened to kids their age. In reality, each kid makes their own choice.

    The new law holding adults accountable is only a means for punishment after the fact. Not prevention. I don't think many kids who are making the choice to drink, have the wisdom, judgement and forethought to stop and think "Oh, I might send my brother to jail if I ask him to buy me beer!" If they had those skills, they'd have already made the right choice to start with, right?