Underage And Binge Drinking Has Consequences

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There have been many tragic stories of lives lost or ruined by binge drinking and drug use, from hazing to driving under the influence in Times Square. It is estimated that 5,000 people under age 21 die every year from alcohol-related traffic fatalities, suicides and homicides. Underage drinking also can damage the developing teenage brain and increase the possibility of sexual activity and its many unintended consequences. As many teens start drinking alcohol during the summer months, Manhasset CASA offers the following parenting tips through its Talk2Prevent campaign:
• Be a Parent, Not a Friend. When parents monitor, supervise and set boundaries, their teens are at a lowered risk for using drugs and alcohol.
• Consequences: Health & Future. Make sure your tween/teen knows the serious and possible long-term consequences of alcohol to their health and future. And be certain to highlight how it could negatively impact college acceptances.
• Set Expectations. Make it clear that you do not want your child drinking alcohol and that you trust them not to.
• Set Rules. Set firm but reasonable rules such as curfew, expecting to be notified when plans change and knowing at all times where your teen will be.
• Talk Consequences. Tell your kids (more than once) the consequences of alcohol use, both legal and medical, and be clear about what you will do if the rules regarding this are broken.
• Get the Facts. It is easy to react out of fear, frustration and anger, but you can do harm to your connection if you accuse your child of wrongdoing without actual proof.
• Problem Solve. Every so often, discuss your family rules and expectations. Acknowledge peer pressure and take it to the next step by doing some problem solving. For example, “What are you going to do if you are out with your friends and someone offers you alcohol?”
• Be Clear & Concise. Tell your kids that underage drinking is not a teen rite of passage and is not an excusable teen experience. Clearly state that in fact everyone is not using alcohol.
• The Family Impact. Be specific about the consequences your teen and their bad decisions have upon the family as a whole, especially the impact on their younger siblings who often look to them as how to act. One of the most important things about consequences is to use them as a response to your child’s behavior, not to your child themselves. Show respect and caring as all kids (teens too) need to feel your love. This way your child will know that they are precious and safe—even when you’re using consequences.
For more information about Manhasset CASA or their Talk2Prevent Campaign, visit www.manhassetcasa.org and talk2prevent.ny.gov.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Port Washington News, special features including the Business Quarterly column, Manhasset Magazine, Pride In Port, Port Washington News, Port Gift Guide and other special sections. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community newspaper" several years in a row.

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