By: Deanna Kupcik and Monika Weldon, Co-Chairs for Way Out West Coalition
It’s the holiday season and kids are out of school… Let the parties begin! Right?
Alcohol is often present during holiday celebrations and teens often receive mixed messages about drinking. Unfortunately, drinking during the holidays may result in serious consequences for teenagers, including alcohol poisoning, violent crimes, unprotected sex and/or unplanned pregnancy and fatal car crashes. Hospital emergency room visits involving underage drinking increase significantly during the holidays. But unfortunately, many parents turn a blind eye saying, “that will never happen to my kid.”
But it does happen to a lot of kids in the West Valley. The 2012 Arizona Youth Survey shows one out of every three Buckeye Union High School District students surveyed used alcohol in the past 30 days. Half of those reported they got it at a party and one out of five said they got it at home.
Here are four tips to reduce the chances your child will be “that kid” this holiday season:
1. Be sure your teen understands that drinking under the age of 21 is illegal and NOT acceptable.
2. Know where your teen is going. Who will be there? Will alcohol or other drugs be present? Will
adults be present in the home? Do those adults tolerate drinking in their home? Go the extra step and ask your kid these questions. It is important that your teen NOT get in a car with a driver who has been drinking. Make an agreement with your teen that if they call to ask for a ride that you will come and get them (no matter what time it is or where they are) no questions asked (until later in the day). Ask yourself, which would I rather receive, a call from my teen to pick them up or a knock on my door informing me of a tragedy. That goes for getting in the car with an adult that has been driving, too.
3. Discuss with your teen situations where they may be pressured to drink and how they can respond to them. Be sure your teen knows where and how to call for emergency assistance if a partygoer needs medical attention.
4. MOST IMPORTANTLY, be a good role model. Drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking.
The WOW Coalition is committed to reducing underage drinking and keeping our kids safe. Discover more at www.wowcoalition.org. To report underage drinking in Buckeye call 623-349-6400.
PS. Have a safe and sober holiday season or simply put… have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!