Posted on October 2, 2018 by Guest Author
Fall is the time for football, holidays, and activities that bring families and friends together. Unfortunately, it is also a time when underage drinking occurs.
If you have been to an EPISD high football game in the last few weeks, you probably heard an announcement regarding the importance and the consequences of hosting underage drinking parties. This announcement is intended to educate parents and teens about a new effort to tackle underage drinking.
A social host ordinance went into effect in El Paso in June 2017. This ordinance holds property owners, parents, and other adults accountable for underage drinking occurring in their home, on their property, and in hotel rooms they rent. Those accountable for hosting underage drinking parties can receive a fine up to $1,000.
In a 2015 survey of 9th graders in El Paso, 1 in 5 youth reported binge drinking (more than 5 drinks on one occasion) in the past month. In addition, 75% of those who reported drinking said that they usually drank “at my house or at another person’s house” proof that alcohol is readily available to youth in our community. Social settings matter. When alcohol is a constant feature at teen parties, it sends young people a powerful message that underage drinking is acceptable.
Well-intentioned parents believe that allowing their kids and their friends to drink at home is safe. The fact is there are no safe spaces to provide alcohol to minors. Research has shown that young people who begin drinking before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol problems later in life than those who wait until they are 21 years old. In addition, underage and binge drinking comes with high risks and consequences, including but not limited to unplanned sexual activity, sexual assault, fights, unintentional and intentional injuries, and problems at school.
As adults we create and control the environments in which young people learn about alcohol. Let’s show them how to be responsible for themselves and their friends.
As parents there are steps we can take to ensure our kids stay safe and healthy: - Don’t host underage drinking events; - Set clear policies at home against underage use; - Be open to hearing your kids questions on alcohol; - Don’t let other parents make the decision to serve alcohol to your kids.
Talk with your kids about the risks of underage drinking. Visit www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking for tips on how to start a conversation.
Adults can play another vital role in protecting youth from the dangers of alcohol use. That is the role of an advocate. Work with neighbors and friends to help enforce policies, such as the social host ordinance, that research has shown to be effective. For more information about the social host ordinance call 915-730-3805.
Guest Writer: Susie Villalobos, Evaluator with PRC10 Regional. She can be reached at 915-782-4000 ext.1322 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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