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Underage Drinking

Parents are Letting their Kids Drink Now More than Ever

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When the pandemic hit and everyone was on lockdown, some parents decided to relax the alcohol rules in their families. Research shows that one in six parents allowed their underage children to drink alcohol in their homes during and after the pandemic. To make matters worse, 63% of these parents claimed to have not only let their older teen, who averaged 16 years old drink, but also their younger teen, averaging at 13 years of age.

Drinking alcohol underage has detrimental effects on the brain. Drinking alcohol underage with parental permission sets teens up for bad substance misuse habits later in life.

Myths about Underage Drinking

Parents have several false beliefs about alcohol and drinking that cause them to let their children drink.

First, they believe that it’s safer for kids to initially experience alcohol in the safety of their home. However, studies show that this is not true. According to the National Library of Medicine, many studies have found that both indirect and direct parental influences on alcohol often lead to increased drinking and heavier drinking in teens. These influences range from a permissive attitude towards drinking, to directly offering alcohol to your child.

Second, parents think letting their children drink at home will keep them safer since they won’t be driving. However, this belief does not account for the other problems that come with underage drinking. Alcohol impaired driving accounts for one in three underage drinking deaths. The other two-thirds stem from homicide and suicide, as well as other accidental injuries. Just because kids are not on the road while drinking does not mean they are safe from the dangers of alcohol.

Third, parents believe that since the legal drinking age is 18 in some countries, it’s okay to let their teens drink before 21. However, countries with lower drinking age requirements have more problems with alcoholism, binge drinking, school-related problems, and more.

Read more on common myths about underage drinking here.

Serious Dangers of Underage Drinking

Parents who let their children drink to protect them are actually exposing themselves and their children to many unnecessary risks.

One risk is being charged criminally. In most states, parents who give alcohol to their children could be charged with neglect and/or supplying alcohol to a minor. Teens can also be charged for being a minor in possession of alcohol.

Another risk of underage drinking is the impact alcohol has on teens’ brains. Teen brains continue developing all the way into their early twenties. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows the brain down. This can have long term effects on many parts of the brain. One such part is the hippocampus, which is responsible for functions like memory and learning. Studies have shown that underage alcohol consumption can result in up to a 10% reduction of the hippocampus’ size.

Alcohol consumption in teens affects the brain and can lead to problems in sleep, school, mental health, decision making, and more.

Lead by Example

Teens whose parents allow them to drink are at higher risk for heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems. The example and boundaries that parents set for their teens stick with them for years and can change their future.

Make the decision to keep your teens safe from the dangers of alcohol.

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