NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Milestone Events for High School Students

underage drinking, Parents LEAD, high school prom, high school graduation

Submitted by Dena Kemmet,Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

High school prom and graduation are milestones in your child’s life; but they sometimes come with high-risk decision-making (i.e. underage drinking, unprotected sexual activity). Each April the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness of alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.

According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) more than 40% of Mercer County students report that the alcohol they drank was provided by someone giving it to them. Comparatively, the state average is 37%.

The NCADD 2018 theme “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’” is designed to draw attention to the many opportunities individuals, families, and communities have to educate young people on the dangers of alcohol use. We often forgive underage drinking as a “rite of passage.” We can simply sit back and hope kids will “get through it,” or we can change our attitude and take an active role in learning about alcohol and drugs and help young people do the same.

Parents LEAD at www.parentslead.org has some advice to help ensure special events are safe and fun. Here is some of what you will find.

Tips for keeping your teen safe:

  • Never provide your child, or their friends, with alcohol. Not only does it increase your child’s risk for alcohol related problems now and later in life – but you are also putting yourself at risk (for more information on N.D. laws see: http://www.parentslead.org/ND-laws.php).
  • Don’t send mixed messages. Sometimes, it is thought that if you ‘supervise’ underage drinking – you are protecting your child. This is actually a misconception: research indicates that adult-hosted parties that serve alcohol to teens do not reduce risk factors.
  • Supervise. Letting teens go to an unsupervised hotel room, party or distant location like a cabin rarely ends well.
  • Negotiate. Curfews are important for teens. During a special event, you may have to negotiate on this topic some. Discuss what is realistic. Having a plan for the whole evening with several acceptable options is a great defense for not being pressured into going to the “drinking” party. Remind them that you will still be holding them accountable.
  • Communicate expectations. These events are special, but remind your teen that your family’s rules still apply. Use these events to reinforce your messages about leading a healthy lifestyle, your expectations and consequences for breaking rules. Talk about the consequences of underage drinking and being in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver.
  • Talk to the parents of your child’s friends and make sure you are all getting the same story about the plans.
  • Find out who your teen is planning to spend the evening with. Do you know this group of friends? 
  • Get some rest; you will likely be keeping the same (late) hours as your teen during special events. This is just a ‘perk’ of being a parent – ENJOY!

Source: www.parentslead.org; https://www.ncadd.org/images/stories/PDF/2018%20Organizer's%20Guide.pdf

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