Springfield News-Sun

Warn kids about underage drinking

- Heloise

Today’s Sound Off is about underage drinking:

Dear Heloise: My husband and I spoke to our three children about drink- ing, and we thought we had a clear understand­ing with them. They all promised to refrain from drinking before the age of 21. For a time, I felt comfortabl­e with them going to parties with their friends, until the police came to our door to let us know that our 16-year-old son was arrested for drunk driving. There were consequenc­es, of course — both with the law and at home.

Your column reaches thousands of people. Please tell parents of teens to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving. Drinking and driving can ruin or possibly end their lives. In the case of my son, it was more of a “go along to get along” situation, but that did not justify drinking and driving. Sadly, my nephew wasn’t as lucky. He and his girlfriend, both of whom were 16, died in a drinking-related accident. — A Reader in Kentucky

Dear Reader, my condolence­s for your loss. Underage drinking is a problem for so many families. In fact, alcohol is considered the most commonly used illegal substance by teenagers in this country. The “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” in 2019 discovered that among underage children, 29% drink alcohol; 14% binge-drink; 5% drive after drinking; and 17% ride with a drunk driver.

This is not acceptable, but the statistics get worse. Underage drinkers have been shown to have a higher rate of absences from school and/or low grades. They are more l ikely to have unwanted, unplanned sex without using any protection. There is a higher rate of suicide or homicide among underage drinkers, and there is always the risk of alcohol poisoning.

So, what can a parent do? Parents are the primary influencer with their kids. Have talks with your children about the effects drinking has on their bodies and their lives. Parents need to remember their children will often emulate the behavior they see at home. That means you shouldn’t binge-drink.

If you find out that your underage child drinks alcohol, you can also try getting profession­al help for them, to discover why they’re drinking and how to stop it. —

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