The drinking age is 21, but many parents believe there’s no harm in kids consuming alcohol if they do it responsibly and while under adult supervision.
Scientists, however, disagree.
A new study says teens who drink under adult supervision are more prone to develop alcohol problems than kids who don’t imbibe until the law says its OK.
Something to think about as prom night approaches.
“The study makes it clear that you shouldn’t be drinking with your kids,” Barbara J. McMorris, the study’s lead author and a senior research associate at the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota, said to MSNBC.com.
For the study, close to 2,000 seventh graders — half from Victoria, Australia, and half from Washington State — were tracked for three years.
The kids were given annual questionnaires about their experiences with alcohol and their relationships with their parents, and were asked how often they’d consumed more than a few sips of any alcoholic beverage.
The surveys also asked the kids how many times they’d experienced harmful consequences, such as “not able to stop once you had started,” “became violent and got into fight,” “got injured or had an accident,” “got so drunk you were sick or passed out,” “had sex with someone you later regretted,” or “were unable to remember the night before because you had been drinking.”
The Australian teens surveyed were more likely (66 percent) than the kids in Washington (35 percent) to be drinking with adult supervision by eighth grade, and were more likely to have experienced harmful consequences from their drinking (36 percent vs. 21 percent).
However, the study authors concluded that no matter which country to teens were from, teaching kids to drink responsibly didn’t work.
According to experts, parents have to stop seeing kids as small adults and realize that their brains haven’t finished developing, and that alcohol has a different effect on the unfinished brain. The teen brain is more vulnerable, and “repeated drinking can lead to long term deficits in learning and memory.”
An assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says there’s also mounting data to show kids are four times more likely to become alcoholics if they start drinking before the age of 15. The recommendation is for parents to model moderation and not drink a lot in front of their kids because it can lead to confusion and show them it’s OK to drink a lot.
As for prom night, experts recommend throwing an alcohol-free party at your house.
I don’t think it’s realistic, however, to expect most teens will go alcohol-free on prom night or in general. But I think it’s right-on to suggest that parents are their kids best role models and that they should be a paragon of moderation in addition talking to their kids regularly about the affects and consequences of alcohol.
Do you think it’s OK for kids to drink under the supervision of their parents?
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