Underage drinking at home not safer

2015-05-21 06:00

PARENTS who believe that allowing their teenage children to drink alcohol at home is safer, are wrong.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) recently said it is parents’ responsibility to encourage children against underage drinking, including saying no to them drinking at home.

“As a parent it is your responsibility to your children safe from underage drinking by teaching them that alcohol is for adult consumption only and to equip them with the right tools and knowledge to say no to alcohol when they are away from your supervision,” said Naazia Ismail, project manager of Sadag.

She said there are no benefits by allowing children to drink at the home or in a controlled environment.

According to Sadag, it is an adult’s responsibility to keep communication open with their children in order for them to understand the consequences and dangers of underage drinking.

She said open communication also allows guidance to be given to teenagers on how to say no to peer pressure.

“The more open your relationship with your children is, the more likely they will feel comfortable with talking to you about any issues, including alcohol. Listen to them, don’t judge and let them know they can come to you and trust you,” said Ismail.

Teaching children how to say no to their friends “without losing face” is one of the key tactics to deal with peer pressure.

“If your child is offered alcohol, they can either leave the scene, change the subject or laugh it off,” she said.

Ismail said children must learn to say no to adults who send them to the shop or tavern to buy alcohol.

Encouraging teens to take part in sport or develop interests and skills that will help them feel good about themselves is another way of curbing alcohol use in teens.

“If you don’t tell them the facts, someone else will. The ‘facts’ they get from friends are seldom true. Instead of waiting until a problem arises, talk to your teen about your concerns and the messages they may be getting from the media and their peers,” Ismail advised.

If your child is offered alcohol, here are some examples of what he or she can say, which includes using white lies that involve you or the other parent:

• “No thanks.”

• “Not today, thanks.”

• “I don’t like the way it [beer, wine, cider] tastes.”

• “I’ll be grounded for life if my dad finds out I’ve been drinking.”

• “My mom will not teach me how to drive if she finds out I have been drinking.”

• “I need all my brain cells for rugby practice [maths test, homework] tomorrow.”

To sign the pledge against underage drinking, go to www.sabstories.co.za

• People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol-dependent than those who have their first drink at age 20 or older.

• Teens who use alcohol are three times more likely to be involved in violent crime.

• 67% of teens who drink before the age of 15 will go on to use illegal drugs.

• In 56% of reported rape cases, the victims have been under the influence of alcohol

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