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Talking to Kids About Underage Drinking

What will you say to make sure they make healthy choices?

When Wyckoff Police showed up at a Lawlins Road home on Friday, March 16, they found about — half of the teens scattered and half of them were turned over to their parents by police.

Authorities said a 17 year old hosted the party at his parents' house while they were away for the weekend. The teen was charged with providing property for underage persons to consume alcoholic beverages.

Across the country teens and young adults consume alcohol illegally at alarming levels: about 10.1 million people in the United States ages 12 to 20 drank an alcoholic beverage at least once over the course of a month, according to a 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

In Wyckoff, where over the past few years there have been a    of  to , Police Chief Benjamin Fox has  that the consequences could be dire.

"Each year in Wyckoff we send kids to the hospital with their alcohol content at dangerous levels — people die from this," Fox said. "It's not a joke to be taken lightly and some parents need to be more assertive in what happens in their homes."

Although there were no injuries or illnesses reported in this most recent case, heart-breaking stories of teens and young adults killed due to irresponsible drinking are everywhere, from a 17-year-old high school football player to a 19-year-old college freshman to a sophomore at an Ivy League university.

Many experts believe early communication between parents and their children is important, so Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch wants to give parents and young adults a place where they can share strategies to help prevent underage drinking. 

The former national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Laura Dean-Mooney, told CNN that parents might be able to curb underage drinking by talking about rules and consequences with their children starting in fourth grade.

Another expert looks at the relationship a teen has with his or her parents as a leading factor of whether a teen will make healthy choices when it comes to underage drinking.

"The strength of the parent-teen relationship carries significant weight," wrote columnist Rebecca Hagelin in the Washington Times. "A new study in the Journal of Business Research shows that teens are less susceptible to negative peer influence, especially regarding tobacco and alcohol use, when their relationship with their parents is strong and nurturing and provides the teen with a strong sense of self."

How are you talking about underage drinking with your children?

Tell us in the comments below.

Have something to say? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ivan kahane March 27, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I think this sounds like a very intelligent upstanding young man who probably did exceptionally well on his SATs and wanted to celebrate a well earned break, I believe the real problem here is the lack of serious threats in the area to keep the police otherwise and more appropriately engaged and an unrealistic drinking age which forces a counterculture movement of binge drinking.

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