If you talk to your kids about the dangers of impaired driving but not about waiting until 21 to drink, you’re missing a key step in keeping kids safe from the dangers of alcohol, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In fact, the dangers of underage drinking are even greater off of the roads.
Earlier this year, the nonprofit organization released new data from the FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that reveals that over two-thirds of alcohol-related deaths among 15-to-20-year-olds are non-traffic related. These non-traffic alcohol-related deaths are the result of homicide, suicide, alcohol poisoning, falls, drownings, burns, and other causes.
Other impacts of underage drinking, especially binge drinking, include:
- Sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies from unplanned or unsafe sex
- Injuries from car crashes, falls, and other accidents or sexual assault and other violent behavior
- Declining school performance
- Increased risk of alcohol abuse later in life
- Abuse of other drugs
- Memory problems and changes in brain development that may have long-term effects
Keep your kids safe from the dangers of alcohol, both on and off the roadways, by having an honest, open, and ongoing discussion with them about the dangers of alcohol and underage drinking. You might not think your teens will listen to you, but MADD reports that parental influence is the most important factor in keeping teens safe. And with many teens and young adults heading off to college over the next few weeks, there’s no better time to keep the discussion going.
Not sure how to talk to your kids about underage drinking? Find resources on how to start the conversation, what to say, and how to answer tough questions through MADD’s Power of Parents program.