Sue Scheff: Supervised Underage Drinking?

As New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, people have made their plans or in the process of deciding what they will be doing.  One thing is almost certain, many plans include drinking alcoholic beverages.  It is a fact that the rate of drunk driving increased during holiday times, however that doesn’t mean we can’t still remind people that drunk driving and buzzed driving kills!

The topic of underage drinking is also a huge concern, and a topic every parent of a teen needs to be aware of.  According to a Connect with Kids article this past summer, it gave some insights as to why some parent “allow” this and the philosophy behind it.

Here are some excerpts from the article, and you make your own decisions. 

It’s kind of like [parents] open the door as soon as you get to the party, and they have a bowl to the side where they take your keys before you even start drinking.”

– Cameron Herron, 19

New research from Penn State University reports that high school kids who aren’t allowed to drink alcohol are far less likely to drink heavily when they get to college. This contradicts the conventional wisdom that forbidding alcohol turns it into a kind of “forbidden fruit” that causes kids to go wild in college.

But still, every year there are parents who break the law: they host a party and serve teens alcohol.

How often does this happen? According to teens, all the time.

“It’s kind of like they open the door as soon as you get to the party,” says 19-year-old Cameron Herron, “and they have a bowl to the side where they take your keys before you even start drinking.”

Why do some parents allow underage drinking? 

“Because they would rather it be at their house and for them to have the control,” answers 19-year-old Marlena Flesner, “and for them to know where their kids are.”

“I hear that a lot,” says Dr. Michael Fishman, an addiction specialist, “and the fallacy is ‘to keep the kids safe’.”

That’s the assumption, but is it true? Is it really safer when kids drink with adult supervision?

I’ve been at parties where I’ve seen a mom say, ‘hey, this kid is a little too drunk – no more for him,'” says 19-year-old Anthony Machalette.

The problem, kids say, is that sometimes there is no supervision.

And it was pretty much all of us downstairs partying,” recalls 19-year-old Ryan Soto. “The parents are upstairs doing – nothing. They just kind of minded their own business and let us have a party downstairs.”

Usually they are not around,” agrees Marlena Flesner. “They just kind of host it and sometimes buy the alcohol – or they just allow it.”

And often, the kids start drinking at home – but they don’t stay there.

In fact, some people are going to leave that house intoxicated,” says Dr. Fishman.

It was a lot of the wealthy parents who had a big house,” says 20-year-old Jessica Holt, about one party she attended. “A lot of people could come. They wouldn’t collect keys or anything.”

Finally, experts say, allowing kids to drink at home sends a message.

“You’re introducing a lifestyle to your 15, 16, 17 year old and that lifestyle is alcohol. And so by allowing them to drink in your home, you’re basically giving them permission to drink in the world at large and any time they’d like,” explains Stacey DeWitt, President of Connect with Kids.

She says it’s easier for kids to say no if you make a stand against underage drinking that is loud and clear.

I know my mother would kick my behind if I was drinking underage,” says 20-year-old Erin Smith.

What do you think? Watch the video – be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Please have a safe and healthy New Year’s Eve, and you really don’t need alcohol to have fun!  Learn about to put your own twist into the New Year Eve’s party with your teens!

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