This post is third in a series about safe driving practices for teens and the Zero Fatalities campaign’s four areas of focus: drowsy, distracted, aggressive driving and not buckling up. Click these links to read the first and second posts.
ParentsEmpowered.org, a prevention effort aimed at eliminating underage alcohol use, touts an interesting fact on their website: teens really do listen and care about what parents think– great news when it comes to keeping kids safe.
Kids should never drink and drive, but many do. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data from 2008, 31 percent of teens involved in crashes were impaired. Talking to your kids about safety measures needs to include strong messages about staying away from alcohol and other drugs.
While public safety is one huge concern when it comes to kids, new scientific discoveries show alarming evidence that goes beyond drinking and driving; underage drinking can permanently harm a young person’s developing brain. Teens are at much greater risk than adults for addiction and other serious problems.
As an outreach effort to parents and other adults who care about kids, ParentsEmpowered.org kicked off a seasonal safety campaign Monday at a local Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Outlet with some great visual reminders for shoppers. Giant cut-outs of teens greet customers at the door and inside the store.
The images of teens look lighthearted at first, but each cut-out is paired with a serious message based on recent scientific studies that show how dangerous alcohol is for young people.
“Alcohol is not benign to kids,” says Art Brown, Utah’s leader of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Art points out that the teen brain is still developing and susceptible to damage from alcohol use. Brown and ParentsEmpowered.org offer some great advice:
1. Stay close. Kids who have a close, loving relationship with parents are more likely to stay alcohol free.
2. Set clear rules and expectations. Tell your kids about the dangers of alcohol use and make sure they know the household rules. And, have that talk early — by age 11 or 12 at least. Kids start drinking much earlier than you think.
3. Monitor your kids. Keeping track of your kids has been shown to deter early alcohol use.
4. Never, never give alcohol to anyone under age 21. The DABC store is a great place spread the word since “20 to 25 percent of kids get alcohol from adults,” says Brown.
“Quit giving alcohol to kids!” Giving alcohol to kids is against the law and invites dangerous health and safety consequences.