Graduating from high school is an exciting time for graduates and their families. It’s a time to reflect on their accomplishments and envision what the future holds. It’s also a time for hosting and attending graduation parties. But we need to remember to be open, cautious, and caring to ensure all teens stay safe. Research shows that parents can make a big difference by taking the time to talk to teens about keeping the festivities alcohol-free. It is important to set expectations, rules, and consequences, and by informing them you will be there to supervise any parties. Unfortunately, when teens drink in celebration of graduations they often engage is risky behavior and accidents, sexual assaults, medical emergencies, and alcohol-related traffic crashes can happen.
Having family policies about adolescent drinking at home is vital and parents personal use and views are essential in setting expectations. Studies have shown that it’s important to talk early and often with children and teens about mutual concerns regarding alcohol. In Illinois, the Social Host Law, which went into effect January 1, 2013, holds adults accountable for underage drinking that occurs in the home. To prevent accidents while protecting yourself from liability, make graduation party safety a top priority. Make sure that alcohol is not served to anyone underage. Be aware of where you store your alcohol, and always remind your teen that the alcohol in your house is off-limits. Short, frequent discussions can have a real impact on your teen. Talking often builds an open, trusting relationship with your teen. Young people are more likely to avoid drinking when they have a strong, trusting relationship with their parents. Take the time to discuss your beliefs and opinions about alcohol with your child.
According to CDC: Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year. People aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinking. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:
-33% drank some amount of alcohol
-18% binge drank 8% drove after drinking alcohol
-20% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol
Angie Peralez BA, CADC & Yesenia Lopez BA, MHP, Renz Addiction Counseling Center
For more information on the social host law, visit: https://www2.illinois.gov/ilcc/education/pages/parental-responsibility/know-the-law.aspx