Many adults wink at underage drinking.
In some cases, they buy alcohol for minors with no thought about how it may hurt them. In other cases, they host events where young people will consume alcohol “under adult supervision,” falsely believing this will reduce the risks.
Fortunately, other adults understand the perils of such actions. They commit themselves to educating everyone about the hazards of underage drinking and the legal consequences to facilitating it.
One campaign overseen by members of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has tags placed on alcoholic products sold in Akwesasne stores. Project Sticker Shock advises adults against buying alcohol for minors.
“Akwesasne stores have stickers attached to a variety of products that contain alcohol. These are part of Project Sticker Shock, designed to reach adults who might purchase alcohol legally but may provide it illegally to minors. Much of this prevention project involves community members joining together to create a safer and healthier lifestyle for our youth,” according to a news item published May 16 by the Watertown Daily Times. “More importantly, this is a youth-driven initiative geared to help their fellow youth. It is aimed at reducing underage drinking and its related problems by reducing youth access to alcohol. Some adults do not perceive youth consumption of alcohol as a danger — feeling a sense of relief that ‘it’s only alcohol’ and not a ‘real’ drug. This is wrong, as alcohol remains the substance most abused by youth. According to a 2019 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey, youth report having a drink of alcohol as early as 12-years old, which is putting themselves at greater risk for alcohol problems later in life. In a SRMT Alcohol/Chemical Dependency Program Youth Survey conducted in 2019, teenagers stated they know how to get alcohol. Whether they obtain it from friends, siblings, parents, unlocked liquor cabinets, or licensed alcohol beverage establishments; nearly 79% of middle and high school youth say it is easy to get alcohol.”
The stickers immediately grab people’s attention. Hopefully, those who are there to supply alcohol to young people will get the message.
The Alliance for Better Communities in Watertown often runs its own campaign designed to dissuade people from hosting events where youths will drink alcohol. The “Parents Who Host Lose the Most: Don’t Be a Party to Teenage Drinking” program is typically held in the spring to coincide with proms and graduations.
If teenagers are going to drink alcohol, it’s best if they are supervised by adults. This is the rationale of many parents who host parties for their children where beer, wine and liquor are served. This way, they can be monitored and transported safely back to their homes if they become inebriated.
However, this sends the wrong message. Underage drinking is illegal and should not be condoned — and there are legal consequences for adults who engage in this behavior.
Youths are very receptive to the values their parents profess, and setting boundaries about unlawful behavior is vital in guiding young people. If their parents tell them it’s OK to drink alcohol some of the time, why not do it at other times?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the period from April through June accounts for a third of all teen fatalities in vehicle crashes involving alcohol. Adults must do everything they can to direct young people away from alcohol. We commend those who make the effort to ensure youths develop a positive attitude toward healthy living.