Alcohol consumption may be illegal for anyone under the age of 21, but that doesn’t stop teens and underage adults from drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among American youths and is responsible for over 4,700 deaths among youths every year.
The CDC further reports that underage drinkers are more likely to develop school, social, legal, and physical problems; abuse drugs; experience physical and sexual assault and participate in risky sexual activity; sustain unintentional injuries from car crashes, falls, and other alcohol-related accidents; and suffer from memory problems, disruption of normal growth development, and life-long effects on brain development.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 1 in 6 teens binge drink but only 1 in 100 parents believes that his or her teen does so. In an effort to raise awareness of underage drinking and drug use, Red Ribbon Week is observed for one week every October. This year, Red Ribbon Week falls from October 21-25.
During Red Ribbon Week, schools and communities across the nation will educate kids, parents, and the public on the problem and dangers of underage drinking and help prevent underage drinking by encouraging youths to live a drug-free life. MADD encourages teens and parents to join educators and community leaders by using Red Ribbon Week to start an open and ongoing conversation about alcohol.
Teens and underage adults can spread a positive influence among their peers and younger kids by promoting Red Ribbon Week through fun daily activities, such as wearing red one day of the week. Teens can also use their Twitter and Facebook accounts to raise awareness of and prevent underage drinking. Visit Madd.com’s Red Ribbon Week for Teens page for examples of daily activities and pre-written tweets and Facebook updates that you can use during Red Ribbon Week.
Parents can prevent underage drinking in their own family by talking openly with their kids about the dangers of alcohol. According to MADD, parents are the leading influence on their children’s decision to drink or not drink, and kids are listening to what you have to say (or don’t say). Parents can learn more about underage drinking and how to talk to their kids about alcohol at Madd.org.