Understanding the Consequences of Underage Drinking

Having a teenager in the house can be a challenging experience for any parent. Teenagers are at an age where they want more independence from their parents as they try to figure out who they are and how they fit into this world. However, being a teenager today is also not an easy task. Teens are under considerable pressure by society and their peers, which can lead them to engage in behaviors that they would not necessarily do on their own. One of the biggest problems facing teens today is underage drinking.

According to a Kansas Communities That Care student survey, Kansas youth self-report that on average the first time that they drank alcohol was at or before the age of 13. By the age of 14 youth reported that they started drinking alcohol on a regular basis or more than once or twice a month. This can be shocking information for a parent of a teenager. Especially when combined with the fact that it is estimated that youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to have problems with alcohol as adults.

As a parent, it is important to understand the potential consequences that underage drinking can have on a teenager. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have found that youth who consume alcohol are more likely than their peers who do not consume alcohol to experience the following types of problems:

  • Problems in school, including but not limited to higher rates of absenteeism and receiving poor or failing grades;
  • Physical problems, such as memory problems, disruption of normal growth, and changes in brain development;
  • Social problems like fighting and the inability to participate in organized sports and activities; and
  • Legal problems stemming from drinking and driving or engaging in violent or property crimes.

Youth who drink alcohol are also at a higher risk for:

  • Committing suicide or homicide;
  • Death from alcohol poisoning and/or drowning;
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as unprotected sexual activity which can lead to unwanted pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease;
  • Abusing other drugs;
  • Becoming the victim of physical or sexual assault; and
  • Experiencing physical injuries from burns or as the result of an alcohol related car accident.

It is important for parents to start a dialogue about not drinking with your teenager as early as possible. Parents play a huge role in a teenager’s decision whether to drink alcohol. Make sure that your teenager hears from you about how underage drinking can impact their lives. Less than half of all teens report that that their parents have talked with them about the dangers of alcohol consumption in the last year. It is critical for a parent to talk to their teen and to do so regularly.

Parents can help their teens by explaining to them some of most common problems associated with alcohol consumption. Make sure that your teen knows that if he or she is ever at a party and needs to leave that you are willing to help him or her out of the situation. Explain to your teen that under no circumstance shall he or she ever operate a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

If you are a parent of a teenager who has been charged with DUI or an alcohol related offense you may not know what to do or where to turn for help. While your teen may have made a big mistake, you do not want to allow his or her blunder to cost him or her their future. At The Whitman Law Offices, we will take the time to carefully explain the charges your son or daughter is facing and evaluate his or her defenses. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorneys, contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460.


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