In high schools around the world May is synonymous for many things: AP Tests, STAAR, final exams, the official count down to summer. But perhaps at the top of the list, our students are thinking about prom. Prom means dresses, dinner reservations, party buses/limos and a slew of parties (both pre-gaming and the after party). For many students prom also means alcohol. We want to make sure that our parents are educated in providing a fun but safe prom experience for their students!
Did you know that when a teen admits to drinking, they aren’t admitting to drinking the same way an adult drinks? Chronically teens are binge drinking (having 4-5 drinks in 2 hours). Approximately 50 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds who admit to drinking say they have had five or more drinks at one sitting, as do 65 percent of admitted drinkers aged 15 to 17 and 72 percent of admitted drinkers aged 18 to 20 years. Furthermore, about one in seven teens binge drinks, yet only 1 in 100 parents believe that their teen binge drinks.
Binge drinking is much more dangerous than casual/social drinking. Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers. Drinking is associated with the three leading causes of death and serious injury in teenagers (motor vehicle accidents, homicides and suicides). Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. Additionally, statistics show roughly a third of all alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June, which is considered the peak of prom season.
Most teens learn about the perils of driving under the influence during Driver's Ed, but have reported that their fear of getting into trouble with their parents appears to outweigh the risk. According to AAA, 84 percent of teens surveyed said their friends would be more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking than to call home for a ride (if they believed they'd get in trouble for using alcohol). Another 22 percent said they'd ride in a car with someone who was impaired instead of calling their parents.
What's a parent to do? SAMHSA recommends to "Talk. They Hear You.", with the following goals in mind:
- Voice your Values. Over 80% of kids 10-18 say parents have the biggest impact on their decision on whether to drink, so decide upon your family values and communicate your expectations to them. Keep in mind this can also include clever ways to help them get out of tricky peer pressure situations as discussed in this article!
- Show you care. Keep calm and neutral while stressing the short-term consequences on your child's growing brain, social standing and academic performance.
- Show you are informed. Teach them about alcohol and how it affects their growing body. Read below for some good info to share with your student.
- Help them resist peer pressure. Agree on a word or phrase he or she can use to have you pick them up, no questions asked. Come up with 5 excuses they can use to refuse a drink. This article has some excellent suggestions!
Three Things To Remind Your Students About Alcohol:
- Alcohol affects you, even if you don't feel it. How fast alcohol affects you is influenced by many things, including your weight, how much you've eaten, how fast you drink and even changes in your hormones that happen during the month. Even if you aren't slurring your words or stumbling, alcohol is causing changes in how you act and react.
- The only thing that will sober you up is time. Coffee, cold showers, exercise or other "cures" will not speed up how fast your body gets rid of the alcohol. Know this when your friends want to do shots or play drinking games. It takes one hour for a 100 lb. girl to metabolize 1 oz. of alcohol.
- Have a plan. Remember that some of your friends may want to say no, too - support them. Ideas: Offer to be the designated driver. Carry the same drink around all night; pouring some down the bathroom sink. Have Fasten or your parents ready to call for a ride.
Don't be a afraid to talk to your kids - they are listening and they DO want your support!
And if you won't take it from me, take it from the students. In April we challenged our students to create short PSA's about creating a dialogue for change. We had many excellent entries and this one really felt appropriate with Prom right around the corner! (Warning - a car accident is simulated).
Stay Safe and Healthy, Chaps!