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Alcohol Underage drinking

Many parents are surprised when they learn that children as young as fifth graders are using alcohol. If parents aren't vigilant, kids can hide their drinking.

In the booklet Words Can Work: When Talking About Alcohol, Ashley says she ignored signs that her teenage son used alcohol. "You just don't think they're drinking at 14. You think they're babies."

Words Can Work offers the following facts to remind parents they can protect their children. And what's at stake if they look the other way.

Parents can make a difference
• Children are less likely to drink when parents stay involved with them. 1

• Adolescents drink less and have fewer alcohol-related problems when their parents discipline them consistently and set clear expectations.1

Alcohol and academic achievement
• Eleven-to-thirteen-year-olds report feeling a lot of pressure to achieve in academics and in extracurricular activities, and they use alcohol and other drugs to cope.2

• Among eighth graders, those with higher grade point averages reported less alcohol use in the past month.3

Talk early and often
• Forty-seven percent of ninth-grade students reported they drank alcohol before they were 13.2 years old. 4

• Fewer than 30 percent of fourth to sixth graders surveyed learned - in school - about the dangers of drinking and smoking.5

It's worth your effort
• More than 40 percent of individuals who drink before age 13 will abuse alcohol, or depend on alcohol, at some point in their lives.6

• Delaying the onset of drinking by five years reduces by half a child's risk of alcohol problems later in life. 7

Actions speak as loudly as words
• Parents' drinking and favorable attitudes about drinking are associated with adolescents' starting and continuing drinking. 1, 7, 8

Words Can Work: When Talking About Alcohol booklet written by Jeanne Blake encourages parents to not lecture children. "The most effective thing you can do is listen," says Dr. Brian Johnson, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Ask smart questions, then listen."

Words Can Work: When Talking About Alcohol offers questions to help children think through consequences of drinking, and words to help you talk with your kids.

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1. Hawkins, J.D., et al. Exploring the effects of age of alcohol use initiation and psychosocial risk factors on subsequent alcohol misuse. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 58 (3): 280-290, 1997.

2. Child Development, September/October 2002, Volume 73, Number 5, Pages 1593-1610

3. Brown, S.A., et al. Neurocognitive functioning of adolescents: effects of protracted alcohol use. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 24(2): 164-171.

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, United States, 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: CDC Surveillance Summaries 49(No. SS-5): 1-94, 2000.

5. The Weekly Reader National Survey on Drugs and Alcohol, Middletown, CT: Field Publications, Spring 1995.

6. Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free

7. Andrews, J.A., et al. Parental influence on early adolescent substance use: Specific and nonspecific effects. Journal of Early Adolescence 13(3):285-310, 1993.

8. Ary, D.V., et al. The influence of parent, sibling, and peer modeling and attitudes on adolescent use of alcohol. International Journal of the Addictions 28(9):853-880, 1993.

Copyright 2015 Blake Works Inc.

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Alcohol   Schools take action
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Alcohol: True Stories Hosted by Matt Damon - DVD
Young people tell their powerful stories about drinking and driving, addiction, and avoiding alcohol use.
Words Can Work: When Talking About Alcohol - Booklet
Young people and parents tell how they discuss underage drinking.
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