Ways to Guard Against Underage Drinking

Arming Youth with Safety and Prevention

Several studies point to a parent’s ability to shape their kids in lasting ways. Parents may think their teens could care less about what they have to say, but research suggests that parents have a lot more influence than they realize. Not only are they listening, but more importantly, they are watching parents closely and modeling their lives after what they see. Whether you believe it or not, parents are the biggest influence in their teens’ lives.

According to a survey by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), parents do have an influence on teens’ decisions about underage drinking. Teens are much less likely to drink if their parents tell them underage drinking is completely unacceptable, this survey found. Unfortunately, underage drinking is widespread. The National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that alcohol is the most abused of all substances. And according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) it is responsible for 5,000 youth fatalities annually. Family factors, such as parent-child relationships, discipline methods, communication, monitoring and supervision, and parental involvement, can significantly influence alcohol use among youth. Because of increasing demands on their time and attention, however, parents may be spending less time with their children and therefore need strategies and ideas to help them effectively parent their children.

Below are some tips for parents to consider from The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide for Families

Be aware of factors that may increase the risk of teen alcohol use.

• Significant social transitions such as graduating to middle or high school or getting a driver’s license
• A history of conduct problems
• Depression and other serious emotional problems
• A family history of alcoholism
• Contact with peers involved in deviant activities

Be a positive adult role model.

• If you drink yourself, drink responsibly. That means not drinking too much or too often.
• Stay away from alcohol in high-risk situations. For example, don’t drive or go boating when you’ve been drinking.
• Get help if you think you have an alcohol-related problem.
• Do not give alcohol to your teens. Tell them that any alcohol in your home is off limits to them and to their friends.

Work with schools, communities, and government to protect teens from underage drinking by ensuring that …

• Schools and the community support and reward young people’s decisions not to drink;
• Rules about underage drinking are in place at home, at school, and in your community;
• Penalties for breaking the rules are well-known. Rules are enforced the same way for everyone;
• All laws about underage alcohol use are well-known and enforced; and
• Parties and social events at home and elsewhere don’t permit underage drinking.

Support your children and teens and give them space to grow.

• Be involved in your teens’ lives. Be loving and caring.
• Encourage your teens’ growing independence, but set appropriate limits.
• Make it easy for your teens to share information about their lives.
• Know where your teens are, what they’re doing, who they’re with, and who their friends are.
• Find ways for your teens to be involved in family life, such as by doing chores or caring for a younger brother or sister.
• Set clear rules, including rules about alcohol use. Enforce the rules you set.
• Help your teens find ways to have fun without alcohol.
• Don’t let your teens attend parties where alcohol is served. Make sure alcohol isn’t available at teen parties in your own home.
• Help your teens avoid dangerous situations such as riding in a car driven by someone who has been drinking.
• Help your teens get professional help if you’re worried about their involvement with alcohol.

Even if you have taken all the precautions to keep your teen away from alcohol, it could still happen. Parents may have many questions, “Will this charge keep my child from being accepted into college?”, “Will my teen be arrested?”, “Can it be dismissed?”, “If they are convicted, will it be on their record forever?”, “How does an underage DUI differ from a traditional DWI?” All of these are valid questions. Parents recognize the importance of a clean criminal record and don’t want their children to be haunted by an underage drinking charge for the rest of their lives.

If your teenage son or daughter has been charged with an underage alcohol charge, contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation at 732-965-3350 to discuss the underage drinking charge. The criminal defense lawyers at Villani & DeLuca have the experience and the skill to handle your case. We represent clients throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County, New Jersey and can help your teenager battle any underage drinking charges in court.