Alcohol is the drug most abused by teens and causes more deaths in young people under 21 than all illegal drugs combined. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years of age and alcohol is implicated in a majority of these deaths, which is why Memorial Day through Labor Day is often referred to as the Hundred Deadliest Days for teen drivers and passengers. In addition, first time drug and alcohol use peaks for teens in summer.
To address this, Riverhead CAP has launched a Summer Sendoff and Youth Safety Campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to give parents information and tools to better address these issues with children of all ages. Through its website, Facebook and Twitter pages, CAP will provide the latest resources for parents to discuss these issues with their children and keep them safe through the summer and beyond.
“Although it’s best to begin talking about the risks of underage drinking and drug use at an early age, parents need to continue these conversations throughout the teen and college years,” said Felicia Scocozza, Executive Director of Riverhead CAP. “Many parents assume their children know how they feel about underage drinking and drug use because they’ve had ‘the talk,’ but teens that hear and see a consistent no-use message from their parents are less likely to use alcohol and drugs. On the other hand, parents who do not discourage underage drinking may be sending a message to their children that it’s not a risky choice or a big deal.”
According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), short frequent discussions rather than one “big talk” can have a real impact on a child’s decision about alcohol. “Parents need to be clear and consistent about their views and rules, and the consequences for breaking those rules,” said Scocozza. She added that it’s also important to give children the opportunity to ask questions and express their feelings during these conversations, as children who have parents who listen to their feelings and concerns are more likely to say no to alcohol.
If you’re the parent of recent high school graduate getting ready to leave for college, it’s still important to share the risks associated with underage drinking with them. For example, 25% of college students who drink report negative academic consequences, and 90% of campus rapes and 50% of unplanned sexual encounters involve alcohol.
Finally, with prom, graduation and summer party season here, parents need to be aware of Suffolk County's Social Host Law. The purpose of the law is to deter underage drinking at parties where adults are present and knowingly allow the consumption of alcohol by minors. Penalties include $500 for a first offense and $1,000 and up to a year in jail for a second offense.
Additional information and resources can be found here, and on CAP’s Facebook and Twitter pages.