Parents Have A Big Part In Underage Drinking

By Donald Currie

Drinking binges start young people developingunderage drinkinghabits. Binge drinking has many negatives effects including accidents and serious health problems.

In some Australian states, current laws only punish sellers of alcohol to minors in licensed stores and no legal action for those minors drinking in private parties. Parents can now have active role in preventing underage drinking in Victoria with the implementation of a law that will penalize anyone supplying alcoholic drinks to minors in parties or any private premises.

Parents’ role in preventing underage drinking

Many Australians drink alcohol at home as part of their lifestyle. Such social acceptance of drinking and parental modelling is closely linked to growing statistics of underage drinking. (Source: Family life is believed to be crucial in preventing problematic social behaviour in children, including underage drinking. Parents are increasingly realizing how their view of alcohol and drinking habits influence their children.

The implemented law stresses the role of parents and protects teenagers from being served alcoholic drinks with their parents' consent. When parental consent is absent for underage drinking then the liability is shifted to the person providing the alcohol to minors.

The law will punish minors supplying other minors as well, making it imperative for parents to teach their children both health and legal consequences of underage drinking.

Safest alcohol level for minors

Alcohol guidelines set 2 standard drinks per occasion as a safe level of consumption for adults. A standard drink contains at most 10 grams of alcohol, which is usually the level found in a can of light beer, ¾ of a can of regular beer, 1 small glass of wine or a 30 ml shot of spirits. This safe limit, however, cannot apply to underage drinkers due to their low tolerance for alcohol, smaller bodies, lack of experience in drinking and managing their drinks. Parents are strongly advised to delay the initiation of alcohol to children and educate them about:

* the short term and long term health consequences of alcohol

* appropriate ways of drinking such as sipping small amounts accompanied by a meal

* social pressures to drink in parties and how to respond in certain situations

* safety guidelines such as informing parents of whereabouts, making regular calls to parents, not drink driving and avoiding risky behaviour during parties

Parents who host house parties where minors are invited can minimise underage drinking by insisting upon parents’ consent which may be communicated verbally through personal calls or in writing. Those charged may have a stiff fine of more than $7,000.

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