April 21st is PowerTalk 21® day, an initiative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), serving as an opportunity to remind and encourage parents across the nation to talk with their children about the dangers of consuming alcohol before the age of 21.
Children whose parents talk with them often about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs are 50% less likely to use in the first place.
But really, what’s the big deal with underage drinking? Plenty. According to MADD, research shows that adolescents who consume alcohol (compared to their non-drinking peers) are more likely to:
- Perform poorly in school
- Engage in violence
- Have social problems
- Be sexually active and have multiple partners
- Have unprotected sex resulting in pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted disease
- Become a victim of sexual assault
- Become an alcoholic later in life
- Take their own life through suicide or suffer injuries (including car crashes) that lead to death
Underage drinking is a huge deal. The consequences are dangerous and deadly. While today’s society downplays the seriousness of this drug, parents cannot afford to take underage drinking lightly.
MADD offers parents these five steps to help children steer clear of alcohol:
1. Think of yourself as a coach: Provide information, help your child anticipate and
prepare for difficult situations, discuss choices, monitor behavior and cheer your child
on to make smart, safe choices.
2. Get busy communicating: Set clear family rules and consistently follow through on
consequences. Have regular and ongoing conversations with your son or daughter
before alcohol becomes an issue. Talk about health and safety risks as well as legal
3. Keep track of your teen: Know where your child is and whom he/she is with at all
times. Know your child’s schedule and require that you be notified if plans change. Keep
a close eye on your child’s in-person and online activities.
4. Show respect and caring: Children need to feel your warmth. Adolescents are more
likely to be responsive if they feel you are not just talking at them, but respectively
listening to them. Remind them how much you love and care about them and that all
these rules and limits are in place because your biggest concern is their health, safety
5. Be a positive role model: Your child will be most receptive to your guidance if you
lead by example and act responsibly.
Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among youth, and every 90 minutes someone’s teenage son or daughter dies as a result of underage drinking. The longer the onset of drinking is delayed, the safer your child will remain. Connect with your child today for PowerTalk 21.
For additional information on MADD’s PowerTalk 21, please visit https://www.madd.org/underage-drinking.