Parents encouraged to discuss underage drinking

MADD: 74% of kids influenced by parents views on alcohol

SAN ANTONIO - The unofficial start to summer is this weekend and Mothers Against Drunk Driving says the holiday weekend is a perfect time for parents to talk to their kids about underage drinking. If you think they won't listen to what you say, you're wrong.

According to Daniel Garza, a program specialist for MADD, 74 percent of kids said their parents play a big role in their decision to avoid booze.

"It's hard to imagine that. When you talk to your kids it seems like you're talking to a brick wall but they're actually taking in some of the stuff that you're doing," Garza said, adding that underage drinking is a major problem for our youth. "It's the number one drug of choice by teenagers. It also kills more teens than any other illicit drug combined."

As graduation parties mark the end of another long school year, Garza said more teens will find themselves in situations where the booze is flowing.

"They're about to come into a time when they're going to have a lot of free time on their hands and they need to make sure they're making constructive use of it not destructive use of that time," Garza said.

Many parents, about 85 percent according to a recent study conducted by MADD, refuse to believe their kids drink. In reality, a third of Texas 8th graders admit to drinking. While one in four high school seniors reported they've been drunk in the past 30 days.

Off all the places where kids get alcohol, studies show the most common source is a parent. About 26 percent of kids surveyed said they get their booze from mom and dad or an older family member.

If you think allowing your kids to drink under adult supervision is a good way to keep them safe, MADD says you couldn't be more wrong.

"Just think of it like this, is there any other illicit drug you would give your kid to try?" Garza said. "'Do this line of cocaine in the house because it's safe.' You wouldn't do that. Why take that risk with alcohol?"

While many parents stress out about having the sex talk with their kids, Garza said those same parents forget to discuss underage drinking.
"We don't look at it or categorize it as a drug so we don't really see that need to emphasize it," Garza said. "You have to find the right time to have that conversation, and make it a continual conversation. It can't just be as they're walking out the door, 'Hey, don't drink alcohol tonight,' that goes in one ear and out the other."

If you need some tips to get the conversation started with your kids, visit the MADD website (http://www.madd.org/underage-drinking/).


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