Keith Frankel: Most parents are extremely concerned about their children utilizing illegal substances or drugs, but there appears to be greater leniency about underage drinking. I have heard parents express sentiments such as, "I did it, didn't everyone?", "it's part of growing up," "they can drink in Europe," or "I only permit it when they are at home."
Most parents are extremely concerned about their children utilizing illegal substances or drugs, but there appears to be greater leniency about underage drinking. I have heard parents express sentiments such as, "I did it, didn't everyone?", "it's part of growing up," "they can drink in Europe," or "I only permit it when they are at home."
While for the parent these might be acceptable rationalizations, the fact remains that underage drinking no matter where it occurs or under what circumstances is against the law. In fact, minor consumption pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes, article 4, section 244.9, is a class one misdemeanor.
In a study conducted by the Century Council, distillers fighting drunken driving and underage drinking, it was found that 39 percent of eighth graders, 58 percent of 10th graders and 72 percent of 12th graders report that they have tried alcohol at least once. The same study found when teens were confronted about the grim statistics related to underage drinking and related fatalities, 90 percent said it was not worth the consequences.
Consider the following sobering facts and information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
Underage drinking occurs in social settings: According to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among persons aged 12 to 20 who had used alcohol in the past month, most (80.9 percent) were with two or more people the last time they drank alcohol.
Teens drink less often than adults. But when teens do drink, they drink more than adults. On average, young people have about five drinks on a single occasion. This behavior is called binge drinking. It is a very dangerous way of drinking that can lead to serious problems and even death.
Alcohol use by young people often is made possible by adults. After all, teens can't legally get alcohol on their own.
According to a study conducted by Students Against Driving Drunk, many parents either do not believe that their teen participates in destructive behaviors or think that such behaviors are a normal part of growing up. Many also believe that there is little, if anything, they can do to influence teen choices. For example:
More than half (53 percent) of parents agree that drinking is a part of growing up and that teens will drink no matter what.
Approximately one quarter (22 percent) of parents say they let their teens make their own decisions regarding drinking.
The law as noted on this issue is clear and concise. It does not provide for parental exceptions or in-home exemptions. ARS 4-244.9 states that it is unlawful "for a person to sell, furnish, dispose of or give, or cause to be sold, furnished, disposed of or given, to a person under the legal drinking age or for a person under the legal drinking age to buy, receive, have in the person's possession or consume spirituous liquor." The language of the law is purposefully unambiguous.
Remember the facts, moms and dads, as you are faced with having those difficult discussions and with making decisions. Underage drinking is illegal and a very serious problem in our society today. Let's focus and be diligent in efforts to address and hopefully redress the alarming trends.
Keith Frankel is the San Marcos justice of the peace, serving Chandler, Sun Lakes and portions of Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert.