Dads, the thought of talking to your kids about underage drinking may be
uncomfortable, but many experts agree that communication is necessary.
In fact, the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control (NC ABC) Commission
recently launched a campaign called Talk It Out NC to educate parents
about the dangers of underage drinking, the power they have to influence
their children and are empowering them with the tools to act.
The impacts of underage drinking:
Underage drinking can kill
- In North Carolina, one person dies every week as a result of underage drinking
- More than one-third of teen traffic deaths are alcohol-related
- In 2012, underage drinking led to 31 murders
It can lead to other dangerous behaviors
- 67% of teens who drink before the age of 15 will go on to use illegal drugs
- Underage drinkers are 22 times more likely to use marijuana, and 50 times
more likely to use cocaine
- In 2012, underage drinking led to 15,600 violent crimes such as rape, robbery
and assault; and 31,600 property crimes including burglary and car theft
It’s linked to serious mental health problems
- Teens who use alcohol are at a higher risk for developing mental illnesses
such as depression, suicide and psychosis as adults
- Among 12- to 17-year-olds who were current drinkers, 31% exhibited extreme
levels of psychological distress, and 39% exhibited serious behavioral problems
- 12- to 16-year-old girls who were current drinkers were four times more
likely than their nondrinking peers to suffer depression
- Suicide attempts among heavy-drinking adolescents were three to four times
greater than among nondrinkers
- Among eighth-grade girls who drink heavily, 37% report attempting suicide,
compared to the 11% of girls who do not drink who report attempting suicide
Why Small Conversations Make A Big Impression
Talking often builds an open, trusting relationship
Children are more likely to avoid drinking when they have a strong, trusting
relationship with their parents. Get into the habit of chatting with your
child every day. It will make it easier to have serious conversations
about things like alcohol, and will make your child more comfortable coming
to you for advice.
Lots of little talks are more effective than one “big talk.”
Sitting down for the “big talk” about alcohol can be intimidating
for both you and your child. Try using everyday opportunities to talk
— in the car, during dinner, or while you and your child are watching TV.
Remember that the conversation goes both ways.
Although talking to your child about your thoughts about alcohol is essential,
it’s also important to listen to their point of view.
What you do is just as important as what you say.
In addition to talking often with your child about alcohol, it’s
important to set a good example. If you choose to drink, you can positively
influence your child by drinking in moderation and NEVER driving when
you’ve been drinking. Be aware of where you keep your alcohol, and
always remind your child that the alcohol in your house is off-limits.
The good news is that a majority of NC’s youth (94%) say underage
drinking is a problem. The bad news — less than half of NC parents
share that view. Dads’ words have far greater impact that you know.
In a recent survey, teens reported that the number 1 reason they don’t
drink was because of parental disapproval. For more information on the
risk of underage drinking and the Talk It Out campaign visit
http://www.talkitoutnc.org. There, you can also find lots of helpful tools on how to
get the conversation started.