Don’t be a party to teenage drinking
This time of year brings lots of opportunities for teens to celebrate. Unfortunately, many times these celebrations end in tragedy because the parties are fueled by alcohol provided by adults. This year, the Montgomery-Rocky Hill Municipal Alliance wants teens (and their parents) to celebrate events safely without alcohol.
Now through July, the Montgomery Township Police Department and the Montgomery-Rocky Hill Municipal Alliance are raising awareness about the health and safety risks of adults serving alcohol at teen parties.
“Too many people think underage drinking is harmless or even worse – it is acceptable if parents take car keys away from youth. Every year we hear about teens dying or suffering from alcohol poisoning, sexual assault, cyber bullying and drowning that occur after adults provide alcohol to youth.” said Devangi Patel, Montgomery Rocky-Hill Municipal Alliance Coordinator. “Nobody has the right to endanger the welfare of someone else’s child by providing them with alcohol”, she added.
“The Montgomery Township Police Department takes underage drinking and the adults who sell or serve alcohol to youth very seriously”, said Captain Thomas Wain, Montgomery Township Police Department. Anyone who purposely or knowingly offers, serves or makes available an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages or entices or encourages that person to drink an alcoholic beverage is a disorderly person, he warned.
“Underage drinking is illegal, has long term health consequences and is a factor in all five of the leading causes of death among youth” explained Patel. We want this to be a happy commencement season, underage drinking isn’t part of that picture, she added.
Parents should understand that taking away the car keys does not solve all of the problems related to underage drinking.
Did you know:
- At least six youth under 21 die every day from non-driving alcohol related causes (such as
alcohol poisoning, falls, burns, drowning, homicide and suicide).
- Youth aged 12-20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S.
- Studies reveal that alcohol consumption by adolescents impairs intellectual development and results in possibly permanent brain damage.
- When drinking is delayed until age 21, a child’s risk of serious alcohol problems decreased by 70%.
- A conviction for underage drinking goes on your permanent criminal record and will appear on criminal background checks performed by educational institutions and employers.
Consequences of Underage Drinking. Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:
|· Poor coping skills
· Legal problems, such as arrests, abuse/assaults and drunk driving
· Poor decision making
· Disruption of normal growth and sexual development
· Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning
· Abuse of other drugs
· Death from alcohol poisoning
|· Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity
· Physical and sexual assault
· Higher risk for suicide
· Memory problems
· Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
· School problems, such as higher absence and poor grades
In general, the risk of youth experiencing these problems is especially greater for those who binge drink.
Here are some tips for adults (especially parents) on how to avoid being a party to teenage drinking:
- Don’t be afraid to be the bad guy. Taking a tough stand on alcohol use can help youth say no when they are pressured to drink by their friends.
- Talk with other adults about hosting alcohol-free youth events. Unity creates a tough, enforceable message.
- Communication and honesty are important to keep your child safe. Tell your teen that you expect him/her not to use alcohol or other drugs at parties. Be up to greet your teen when s/he comes home. This can be a good way to check the time and talk about the evening.
- Parent networking is the best prevention tool to combat underage drinking. Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents. If your teen is planning on going to a party, call the parents to ensure that they will be home and that they will not allow drugs or alcohol.
- Set a positive example. If hosting a party, always serve alternative non-alcoholic beverages and do not let anyone drink and drive.
- Stay home if your teen is hosting a party at home. Observe the activities and confiscate any alcohol that may be brought by party goers.
- Report underage drinking to the police promptly.
- Encourage parents and youth to call 9-11 if someone needs medical help resulting from binge drinking or alcohol poisoning. New Jersey’s Lifeline Legislation protects the caller from prosecution (P.L. 2009, c.133).
For more information, please contact the Montgomery Township Health Department at (908) 359-8211.