Alcohol use among teens is on the rise. Some parents wonder whether allowing their children to drink in the home will help them develop an appropriate relationship with alcohol. According to research this does not appear to be the case. In a study of sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders, researchers observed that students whose parents allowed them to drink at home and/or provided them with alcohol experienced the steepest escalation in drinking (Komro et al., 2007). Other studies suggest that adolescents who are allowed to drink at home drink more heavily outside of the home (van der Vorst et al., 2010).
The Douglas County School System conducts the Georgia Student Health Survey each year, and last year’s survey found that 33 percent of our high school students said that alcohol was easily obtainable. They also reported parental disapproval at only 79 percent for alcohol use.
Teen drinking is obviously an adult problem with youth suffering the consequences. Parental involvement is at the top of the list for ways to prevent children from starting to drink alcohol. Pre-teens, teens, andyoung adults must understand that starting to drink alcohol at an early age can have lifelong negative consequences to their physical and mental health, relationships and careers. Adults must understand that they have a responsibility to keep alcohol out of the hands of our young people.
The Live Healthy Douglas Coalition has been working for the past year on the Douglas Alcohol Abuse Prevention Initiative (DAAPI). This initiative is designed to improve social norms and attitudes about underage and binge drinking in Douglas County.
I encourage everyone to join in this initiative and show our young people that “Underage Drinking: It Is a BIG Deal.”
Judge Michelle Harrison
Douglas County Juvenile Court