By Torrance Sephus, Prevention Specialist:
They look forward to Friday’s, especially at the end of the school day, because now their weekend has officially began. They are teenagers and they are their own breed of people. We have all heard this before, that today’s teenagers are under a lot more pressure from their peers and friends than many of us were at their age. Often teenagers pressure themselves and are willing to do certain behaviors in order to be liked and accepted by their friends and peers. One of the most popular behaviors is underage drinking. As a Prevention Specialist I work with teenagers and educate them on the dangers of abusing alcohol and drugs. In my position I am able to have open and honest conversations with teenagers, some who have chosen to drink alcohol before the legal drinking age of 21. Alcohol is one of the easiest drugs for teens to abuse and many of them are getting it from home or their friend’s homes. Many teenagers know that underage drinking can be risky to their health, but give some of the following reasons for doing so anyway, to look and feel older, to fit in, to have more fun and simply to be rebellious. Most parents see this as unacceptable behavior for their teenagers because it is against the law for one, but also know their teens are making unhealthy choices. Parents and guardians it is important to have an ongoing conversation about the dangers of drinking alcohol, to make sure your teens know your expectations of them not to drink, to ensure they know that you love and care for them and that they are valued by you. I am often told that parents have not talked to their teenagers about underage drinking and the consequences (yours and legal) of doing so. If they do not know where you stand on this issue as their parent or guardian, then they choose to do it their way, their friends way or the dangerous way.