The Holiday Season and Underage Drinking

by SKHC Editor on December 5, 2008

Youth who report drinking before the age of 15 are more likely than those who begin drinking later in life to have other substance abuse problems during adolescence; to engage in risky sexual behavior; and to be involved in car crashes, unintentional injuries, and physical fights after drinking, both during adolescence and in adulthood.

On the bright side the level of alcohol use dropped among those aged 12 to 17, from 17.6 percent in 2002 to 15.9 percent in 2007. However, the level of underage drinking by persons aged 12 to 20 has remained unchanged since 2002, at 27.9 percent.

As a school nurse, teacher or parent what can you do? Educating children about the effects of alcohol is a great start. Teaching age appropriate information will increase the chances your child will say “no” when they are presented with the opportunity. Give your child suggestions as to how to deal with peer pressure and other stresses in a positive manner. Build their self-esteem and reinforce healthy behaviors.

As responsible as you may be, at the end of the day your child, teenager, or young adult is going to make the decision as to whether or not they choose to drink. If they do decide to try alcohol be aware of how easy it is for them to obtain it. It could be as simple as a friend or irresponsible adult offering them a drink or to “take a sip”. Curiosity, peer pressure or addiction could lead to sneaking liquor or beer from their home. Do not assume all stores check IDs, even if they do, it is possible that your teenager or young adult may have a fake ID and are able to purchase it on their own.

The holiday season is in full swing. Family and social gatherings abound and there’s a strong chance alcohol will be available at these functions. Regardless of the amount of adult supervision there is at these outings it’s important to talk to your child about the effects of alcohol and alcohol abuse. Be a good role model and practice what you preach.

Sources: Family Guide,, StopAlcoholAbuse.Gov

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