The recent deaths of three Washington teens—a 14-year-old Bellingham girl, a 17-year-old boy in Shoreline, and an 18-year-old Washington State University student —remind us just how dangerous alcohol is for minors. As parents and co-chairs of the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking our hearts go out to the families and friends who are suffering these terrible losses.
Before we lose another child, grandchild, student, and friend, let’s ask ourselves what we as adults are doing to encourage or discourage underage drinking.
Parents are the #1 influence on their children’s decisions about alcohol. Although their friends and the media also play a role, studies consistently show that parents are the key, and kids pay attention to what they say and do. Opportunities and pressure to drink (especially during holidays and other times for celebrating) are constant in their young lives.
The most important steps parents can take are to lock up their alcohol, never provide it to minors, continue guiding healthy choices with your teens and college students, and give them the facts:
We are concerned about youth access to alcohol. Recent news reports strongly suggest that stolen liquor is making its way into the hands of teens. Have you wondered what you can do to help create a healthier place for kids to grow up? Each of us has the power to reduce youth exposure to alcohol and its advertising by:
Preventing underage drinking tragedies is up to all of us. Find out how to join others in your community to reduce underage drinking, and get tips for talking with youth, at www.StartTalkingNow.org.