Teens must learn that they shouldn't drink

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Who’s responsible for this? Bad parents? Good parents who just don’t know how to deal with the issue? Poor policing? Evil advertisements? Uninvolved college officials? Peers who think that minding their own business is more important than intervening in a friend’s destructive behavior? Or the teen experimenters themselves, for not acting more responsibly?

How about all of the above?

There is help available. The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has developed a set of guidelines known as THINK:

T: Talk about it. It’s never too soon to talk to your child about the risks of underage drinking. Be prepared to listen, because your kids may know a lot more than you think. They are submersed in media and a culture that focus on alcohol. Be their voice of reason. A simple conversation can give them the tools to say no.

H: Have awareness. Did you know that 67 percent of young people who try alcohol before they turn 15 will also try an illicit drug? Or that, according to an alcohol advertising analysis conducted at SUNY-Potsdam, alcohol use is depicted on prime-time TV shows five times per hour? Know your facts, and share them with your children. Hit home, be real, and show them how they are susceptible to underage drinking.

I: Involvement. As a parent, be involved in your children’s social life. Know their friends, and monitor their social media outlets, such as Facebook and their cell phones. Being aware of their activity online and their cell phone conversations can help you limit their involvement in behavior like drinking. Also, monitor what they’re watching on television, listening to and reading. This can lead to an open-door relationship in which your child isn’t afraid to talk to you about drinking.

N: No means no. Teach your children to be comfortable saying no. Help them to develop confidence and personal boundaries, and increase the likelihood that they’ll turn down a drink. Help them develop a sense of right and wrong from an early age. Set ground rules and stick to them, so your children will be aware of the consequences if they drink.

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