When you think about the problem of underage drinking, it can seem overwhelming! How can one person make a difference? It starts in your home, neighborhood, and community. If you can make a difference there, you will make a difference everywhere.
Here are some things both parents and students can do TODAY to reduce underage drinking:
- Make rules about alcohol – no underage drinking, no exceptions, ever! Work with your children to establish rules and consequences.
- Keep any alcohol you have at home or in the garage locked up or stored away.
- Set a good example as an adult or parent – don’t drink to excess in front of your kids, don’t drink and drive, “practice what you preach.”
- Know your child’s friends and their parents. Talk to them about the rules in their house and make sure you all agree.
- Know where your children are going. If it is a party, will there be any adults there to supervise?
- Talk to your children about alcohol and LISTEN to them. They know where and when underage drinking happens and how easy it is to obtain alcohol.
- Support your child. Even if they choose to drink, let them know they can call you and you will help them. Save the lectures and punishments for later when everyone has had a chance to calm down.
- TRUST your child to follow the rules you have established together.
- Don’t be afraid to make the choice to NOT DRINK! You ARE NOT alone – you are not the only one who has decided to not drink. Find support from others who have also made the same choice.
- Let your friends and peers know you do not drink. Even though they might not show it, they will respect you for making that decision and sticking to it no matter what.
- Know you CAN have a good time with your friends without drinking. Even if your friends drink, you can talk to them about their choice in a non-threatening, non-judgmental way and still be friends. Offer to help them make the right choice by doing things together that don’t involve alcohol.
- Support your friends. If they choose to drink and do get into trouble (for example, if they are drunk and need a ride or if they make negative choices about sex and other issues while they are drinking), let them know you are still their friend and will support and help them.
- Join or form a Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) group or other group so that your peers can find support and plan fun activities for students who don’t drink, and can offer that same support and fun to students who do.
In Your Neighborhood
- Talk with your neighbors and let them know your house is a “safe house” – no underage drinking allowed.
- Form a “neighborhood alliance.” Know which parents allow underage drinking in the house and which parents don’t. Don’t ostracize these neighbors, but let them know that you don’t support underage drinking and will not allow your child to stay at their house as long as they do allow underage drinking.
- As an adult, let the other students in the neighborhood know that you are available to help them should they choose to drink, but that you will inform their parents.
- As a student, let your friends and peers know they can rely on you should they drink and need help, but that you don’t support their choice to drink.
- Show your peers you can have fun without drinking – have parties at your house, plan group events, etc.
In Your Community
- Do a “community scan” – how many alcohol billboards, outlets, advertisements, etc. do you see? How close are they to schools, churches, parks, and other community places? How many billboards and outlets do families and children see every day? Take this information to your city/county councils, neighborhood associations, mayor, and others.
- Attend local ATC (Alcohol and Tobacco Commission) meetings. They are held at least once a month. You can protest alcohol licenses and places that are a “nuisance.” It only takes a few hundred signatures or a few people to testify to make a difference! Go to www.in.gov/atc to find out about your local ATC board and excise police contact information.
- Meet with your local city or county commissioners or mayor to talk about your concerns. They need to know where minors are able to get alcohol in the community. Here are some things you can consider doing:
- Use LOCAL regulations and land use powers to control the number of outlets and advertising.
- Use PROMOTION regulations to reduce exposure to alcohol – ban billboards and ads, restrict or ban outdoor advertising, ban alcohol sponsorship or advertising at family events.
- Use PRODUCT regulations to reduce access to alcohol.
For more information on how to get started on any of these actions in your community, contact us.