Are high school and college kids destined to drink heavily? Not according to scientific study. Research at
universities around the nation show that parents who lay down the law about underage drinking really do help their kids say no to drinking. This is important since studies also demonstrate how drinking during the years before college graduation can harm the brain in measurable ways.
Years of neuro-scientific study have shown that the human brain continues developing far into a person’s first years of adulthood. The pre-frontal cortex – the area responsible for judgment, reasoning and self-control – is not fully formed until a person is in their mid-to-late 20s. That means that the brain is
not completely formed and functional until after most people finish their college education.
A study performed through the University of California, San Diego found that binge drinking during
adolescence can produce abnormalities in brain white matter. White matter is the stuff which creates communication bridges between various areas of the brain. The U.C. San Diego study found that a habit of binging (five or more drinks for a man and four or more for a women) can degrade memory and cognitive
function within as little as two years’ time. A certain number of the teens in the study showed impaired memory and cognition with as few as a dozen drinks per month.
Apart from giving kids the information about drinking and the brain, what more can parents do to keep young people away from alcohol? A good deal actually. Another study, this one performed through Penn State University, found that parents who held a firm line against underage drinking had kids who were less likely to drink once they got to college. The study tracked 300 parents and teens from high
school and into their freshman year of college. The study found a link between parental acceptance of drinking and a young person’s drinking behavior even after they left home.
A third study, at the University of Rhode Island, found that parents who were careful to be informed about where their teen was, who they were with and what they were doing during high school had kids who tended to drink less once they got to college. These studies and more were the subject of an NPR broadcast on the role parents can play in their children’s drinking decisions.
Here in Buchanan County, parents can join together to help teens have fun without using alcohol.
Sponsored by the Youth Alliance, BC Rocks is a collaboration between area moms and dads interested in taking a community stand against underage drinking. By signing up for BC Rocks parents are going on the record as hosts where alcohol will never be served to minors and homes where parents will be
paying attention to what teens are doing.
Parents who let their kids know that drinking is not okay can lower the chances that their child will drink heavily once outside of the house. Parents who stand together can make a county-wide impact. Contact the St. Joseph Youth Alliance to find out how to sign up today.
Do you think that by allowing your teenager to have alcohol at home you can de-mystify alcohol and safely monitor its use? Or have you heard that that if teens are allowed to drink under your roof that they will not be as likely to abuse alcohol later on? These are common myths that many parents have heard and believe.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org wants to help parents get the facts about teens and drinking, including teens who are permitted by their parents to drink in the house. To help parents better understand the consequences of serving alcohol to minors the Partnership at Drugfree.org has joined together with The Treatment Research Institute to create an interactive website where moms and dads can access research-based information.
Some parents fall into the trap of believing that permitting kids to drink at home de-mystifies alcohol making it less likely that they will want to irresponsibly drink as they grow up. In fact, the reverse is true. Serving alcohol to minors makes it more likely (not less) that teens will drink as they grow up.
Other parents worry that holding a tight line against drinking will encourage rebellious drinking by their teen as soon as they leave home post-high school. In fact, studies show that teens who think their parents have a permissive attitude toward alcohol drinking often drink more than kids from homes with stricter attitudes against alcohol.
Parents who decide to serve alcohol to their teens sometimes point to Europe where families commonly serve alcohol even to young family members. These parents should be aware that doing so does not insulate kids against problem drinking later on. In fact, in Europe, where alcohol is more free-flowing, kids get drunk sooner and experience higher rates of alcohol abuse as they get older compared to kids growing up in American families.
The facts show that it is neither safe nor preventive to serve alcohol to teens, even at home. In fact, it is illegal to do so. Parents can look at the Drugfee.org website to find out what legal liabilities exist in their state.
Here in St Joseph, Missouri the Youth Alliance is sponsoring a program titled BC Rocks. BC stands for Buchanan County and the program encourages parents to go on record as a home where alcohol will not be served to minors. Parents who allow their teens to spend time at someone else’s home can look up the family’s name on the BC Rocks registry to see if it is an alcohol-free environment.
Serving alcohol to underage teenagers does nothing to prevent alcohol abuse. The facts show that making it clear to teens that alcohol use will not be permitted does work to prevent abuse. Youth Alliance has formed the BC Rocks campaign to help parents to stand together against teen alcohol use.