WHY UNDERAGE DRINKING IS A BAD IDEA
Hard hitting facts about the risks of children drinking alcohol
Having teenagers presents parents with a whole new set of challenges. And alcohol is just one of them. But the problems associated with alcohol, cause a whole new range of issues! And if you are thinking, “I drank at 16, what is the big deal”, realise that times have changed and as a parent, you need to be aware of this.
As a parent and a psychologist, I firmly believe that minors should not be given alcohol. Not to take to parties and not at home (unless strictly supervised). Underage drinking is a bad idea. Let’s just say that you have a 15-yearold daughter who wants to go to a 16th birthday party. You say, “yes, have fun”. Then she starts to push the boundaries with statements like, “Can I take a drink mum, all the other girls parent’s let them take some, that way they know how much they are drinking”. “What? All your friends are allowed to drink?”, you say. You know for a fact that this is not true. You know some of the parent’s and they would have a coronary if they knew their child was drinking! So, what do you do? A: bow to peer pressure from your child or, B: be the parent that your daughter will claim she hates and go to her room slamming the door.
WELL, I TAKE OPTION B, FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS. 1. It is illegal.
If the police attend the party because a couple of 16-year-olds start punching and fighting, then the hosts of that party can be fined $1100 on the spot for each minor who is drinking without consent of their parent/guardian.
2. It affects their brain.
Research has shown that the developing brain continues to develop until age 25. Binge drinking (which is what happens with unsupervised teens) will literally damage the brain.
3. Increases the risk of sexual assault.
Unfortunately, date rape and sexual assault by a known person is a huge problem. Girls lose their ability to say no or give in to peer pressure, while boys lose their inhibition and common sense. You may be thinking my kids’ friends are great, BUT if your child is intoxicated and there are older people at the party, someone may take advantage of that
situation. If you think an adult has never taken advantage of a teen at a party, think again. Your son is also at risk here.
4. Increases the risk of assault.
Alcohol fuelled rage, jealousy and inhibition can lead young people to fight. This of course can lead to serious injury or death from a ‘king hit’, falling and heading the hit on concrete path, stab injuries and police charges.
5. Increases the risk of road accidents.
Teenagers often walk in front of moving vehicles or take even greater risks if driving. Teens already take risks, that’s how they learn boundaries, but add alcohol and problems will magnify.
6. Alcohol increases the risk of sexual activity.
Do you want your child to have sex with some random person just because they are drunk? It may be consensual, but it can still lead to guilt, shame, embarrassment, bad experiences, trauma, pregnancy and STD’s – which are on the increase again.
7. Social media scandal.
Imagine photos of your daughter sprawled on the lawn with her skirt hitched up, or a breast poking out of her top, or your son vomiting in someone’s garden. Perhaps sexually explicit photos will be leaked creating a whole host of problems for the person in the photo with bullying, depression, anxiety and suicide. The person who took the photo can have serious charges laid against them, as it is illegal to photograph underage children.
8. Increases the risk of taking other drugs.
If you think your angel will never take drugs, think again. ‘Party drugs’ are a huge problem in every school and in every area. If you think just because your child is going to an elite, private or religious school they are immune, think again. Your parenting and vigilance are important.
9. Kids push boundaries.
Kids need firm boundaries. Whatever boundary you set they will push past it. If you say, “Sure you can have just two drinks”, they will have probably have four, if you say that they can’t have any, they will still have a couple. It is important to remember you are their parent, not their friend. Kids have plenty of time to drink when they are legally allowed to do so. And they should be extremely grateful that in Australia the age is 18 and not 21, like it is in America!
Leanne Allen (BA Psych,(Hons)), Is the Principle Psychologist at Reconnect
Wellness Centre. She has trained in Sandplay Therapy, NLP and CBT and has had extensive training in relationship therapy. Leanne has also completed training as a life coach. Her approach is to look forward whilst releasing the trauma of the past. Connect on Facebook or visit the Website.