Underage drinkers must be stopped at their homes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 10, 2004

Today we end our three part series on the new coalition to stop underage drinking in Butler County.

Yes, we are for it all the way and we pledge to take part in any way we can to stop this national problem on our community level.

Underage drinking is just as prevalent in our area as it is across the nation, and our parents and local leaders cannot ignore the problem any longer.

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Underage drinking among high schoolers and even younger students is reaching epidemic proportions – according to a national survey, one in five eighth graders reported drinking alcohol in the past month. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 80 percent of high school seniors have reported using alcohol.

The rampant use of alcohol among those under 21 can have far-reaching, devastating effects. Studies have shown that people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those people who wait until age 21.

Teenagers who use alcohol are more likely to be sexually active and contract a sexually transmitted disease, and alcohol use is implicated in one- to two-thirds of sexual assault and date rape cases among teens. And alcohol is a factor in many serious car accidents involving teenagers.

Peer pressure plays a major role in underage drinking, but studies have said that even into the teen years, children are influenced by their parents’ opinions and behavior. If parents talk to their children about alcohol, they can make a significant impact on their children’s choices.

So talk to them.

You are their parents.

You have the right to be their parents.

Talk to your children and know that they want you to set boundaries.

Yes, they’ll test them, but they want you there to reel them in, to rescue them.

If you don’t try now, you may one day lose that right altogether as you watch the steel doors shut at the local jail.

Or even worse you could be called to the local morgue to identify your child’s remains.

Parents, it's up to you to make the choice to talk to your children and the earlier the better as studies have shown that children take their first drink of alcohol in the sixth grade.

Choosing not to speak to your child due to embarrassment, denial or worse, thinking there's nothing wrong with children drinking, is setting your child up to possibly be an alcoholic, a convict or a corpse.