Why Adults need to Talk with Young People about Alcohol
The 2012 Survey of Students Knowledge and Attitudes of Drugs and Health released by the DNDC, where 2,060 9 to 11 year olds were surveyed showed the following:
Average age for first trying alcohol, even a sip, but not including wine at church, 8 years old
% of 9 year olds who had tried alcohol, even a sip, but not including wine at church, 17.4%
% of 10 year olds who had tried alcohol, even a sip, but not including wine at church, 25.3%
% of 11 year olds who had tried alcohol, even a sip, but not including wine at church, 33%
Additionally, the 2011 Bermuda Youth Survey, released by the DNDC, where 3,200 10 to 18 year olds were surveyed showed the following:
Average age for first trying alcohol 12 years old
% of 13 year olds who had tried alcohol 24.5%
% of 14 year olds who had tried alcohol 41%
% of 15 year olds who had tried alcohol 52.5%
These statistics are very troubling because it is proven that the younger a person is when they begin consuming alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted to alcohol.
Another reason this figure is frightening is because alcohol is the gateway drug, leading to other drugs.
And what else can you do as an adult to prevent underage drinking?
Do not give, buy or serve alcohol to young people:
Giving alcohol to someone who is under the age of 18 or turning a blind eye when a young person is consuming alcohol is dangerous and irresponsible. Step in and put a stop to it. It is proven that those who begin consuming alcohol before the age of 15, are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence (alcoholism) than those who wait unitl age 21, each additional year of delayed drinking onset reduces the probability of developing alcoholism by 14%.
Some adults use alcohol as a "special occasion celebration," perhaps allowing their child to have a sip of beer or champagne or wine. We must advise strongly against this.
Model responsible alcohol behavior infront of young people:
Simply stated, children copy adults behavior, therefore model restraint and set a good example. If you choose to drink, you can positively influence young people by drinking in moderation and never driving if you have been drinking. If you or your partner struggle with alcohol use, seek proffessional help, call 295 5982.
Don't keep alcohol in your house, or keep it well out of reach:
If you must keep alcohol in your house, keep it in a place that is high up and out of easy reach to your child, or even better lock your alcohol up.
Talk with young people about why alcohol is harmful for them:
Tell them that underage drhnking is against the law and for good reason. Explain that alcohol is harmful for young people whose brains and bodies are still growing and developing. You could say, "Alcohol is for adults. The law says that you have to be 18 to drink. Our family follows the law. You are not 18 so we don't expect you to be drinking." Unless you are clear about your rules and your position, children may be confused and thus tempted to use. Make sure you explain to them that you love them and are making these rules to keep them safe.
Recognize good behaviour:
Always let your children know how happy you are that they respect the rules of the household by praising them. Emphasize the things your children do right instead of focusing on what's wrong. When parents are quicker to praise than to criticize, children learn to feel good about themselves, and they develop the self-confidence to trust their own judgment.
Give love and praise to your children:
Provide a high level of love and support to them, tell them you love them, spend time with them, listen to them. Be actively involved in helping them to succeed in school and in life.
Have high expectations of your children:
And tell your children what those expectations are. Tell them regularly what your expectations of them are, and there is strong likelihood that your children will begin to live up to your expectations. Tell them that you expect them to do well in school. Tell them that you expect them not to use alcohol or drugs. If you expect them to go to college, tell them that. We must have high expectations of our children and we must tell them what these expectations are.
Get your child involved in extra-curricular activities:
Get your child involved in at least one sport or hobby and have them spend at least three hours/week with that sport/hobby. Enrol your child in some form of community service which they perform at least once/week.
To view more statistics on alcohol use among Bermuda's youth see pages 52 to 54 of The Bermuda Health Council 2011 Health In Review Study
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