No Drinking Under 21 — Period

Monday, 15 Aug 2011 12:04 PM

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Homecomings, proms, and graduations: booze, booze, and more booze. And, oh yes, drunken sex. But let’s just focus on the alcohol for now.

There are actually parents who teach their children to “drink responsibly” by allowing them to consume alcohol under their supervision. They also host underage drinking parties thinking that children who consume alcohol while adults supervise will somehow become responsible about drinking. Wrong!

The lead author and a senior research associate at the school of nursing at the University of Minnesota conducted studies covering two continents and discovered that teens who drink with an adult supervising are more likely to develop problems with alcohol than kids who aren’t allowed to drink until age 21.

I don’t know why this surprises anybody. As with sex, parents need to make it clear that it’s not OK for kids to drink until they reach the legal age. Parents need to point out their own mistakes and those of others who drank as children: not being able to stop drinking, getting violent and engaging in fights, getting injured or dying in car crashes, blacking out, suffering serious hangovers, having sex with strangers, and being unable to remember anything that happened.

Studies from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center show that kids are four times more likely to become alcoholics if they start drinking before the age of 15.

Let me give you some more sobering statistics. Youths who drink alcohol are more likely to experience school problems, social problems (fighting and less participation in healthy activities), legal problems, physical problems, inappropriate sexual activity, disruption of normal growth and sexual development, physical and sexual assault, higher suicide and homicide risk, alcohol-related car crashes, burns, falls, drowning, memory problems, abuse of other drugs, changes in brain development that may have life-long effects, and death from alcohol poisoning.

Although underage drinking is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.

In 2008, there were almost 190,000 emergency room visits by underage drinkers for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.
Parents need to make sure that their children do not see them overdrinking, getting drunk, and generally acting not very adult-like.

That certainly is also not conducive to teaching children how to be responsible with alcohol.

Bottom line: Children should not drink until they reach legal age when hopefully “moderation” is their mantra.

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