Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Few Words Go a Long Way: Keeping Your Teens Alcohol-Free This Prom & Grad Season

by Joy Spencer

Prom and graduation are two of the biggest memory-making events in a teenager’s life. These days, it’s not just the students who get excited about the planning and celebrating. Many parents take part in every aspect, from picking out the fabulous attire to extending curfew on these special evenings. It’s also a time when parents should ask themselves, “What can I do to make sure my teen stays safe and makes smart decisions?” These are good questions, considering that for some teens, these events bring increased pressure to break the rules, like drinking alcohol.

The good news is that parents should not feel helpless. In fact, they should feel encouraged. When it comes to underage drinking, studies show that parents have a lot more power over the decisions their teens make than they may realize. According to the Roper Youth Report, 74% of teens ages 13 to 17 say their parents are the number one influence on their decisions about whether they drink alcohol, and that finding has been consistent since this survey began more than a decade ago.

“We know it’s not always easy to talk with teens, but parents are actually very effective when it comes to helping their kids make good decisions, like not drinking alcohol or giving in to negative peer pressure,” says Rudy Williams, OLCC Deputy Director. “Parents can be very influential by keeping the lines of communication open, setting firm rules – and sticking to them, and teaching their kids how to make responsible choices.”

The OLCC offers these additional tips for parents for prom and graduation celebrations:

  • Set clear rules about not drinking and consequences for breaking them.

  • If you are hosting a graduation or prom after party, do not serve alcohol to anyone under age 21. Read about Oregon’s alcohol laws and minors.

  • Take inventory of the alcohol in your home and secure it if needed.

  • Find out who is driving. One-third of the alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens each year occur during prom/graduation season (NHTSA). And if a limo is rented, check their policy on allowing alcohol in the vehicle.

  • Remind your teens to ALWAYS wear their seatbelts – it’s the law. 70% of teens killed on prom weekends were not wearing their seatbelts (NHTSA).

  • Discuss the school's prom rules with your teen and the consequences for violating them.

  • Don’t rent hotel rooms for your teens or allow them to attend parties that do not have chaperones.

  • Talk to other parents about post-event activities to ensure alcohol won’t be present.

  • Be available to provide a timely and safe ride home if needed. Let them know that they should call you if they need a ride home or get into a situation they know isn’t safe — no matter what time it is, no matter where they are.

  • The OLCC congratulates students and parents on keeping prom and graduation celebrations safe and healthy. Enjoy every minute of the season and help your teens create positive memories that will last a lifetime.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    April is National Alcohol Awareness Month

    by Joy Spencer

    National Alcohol Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about alcohol abuse and encourage people to make healthy, safe choices. During this month, the OLCC encourages you take time to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of alcohol abuse.
    According to ECONorthwest & Oregon Health Authority, each year alcohol abuse in Oregon leads to 1,400 alcohol-related deaths, 5,100 violent crimes, and 41,000 offenses related to driving under the influence.

    What are some things that you can do this month?
    Check in with yourself about your drinking habits.

    Today is National Alcohol Screening day, which is an important part of Alcohol Awareness month. This day is intended to help people who may not know how much is too much to drink or if the amount that they drink is putting them at risk for injury, illness and addiction. Take the screening online or locate an event near year you.

    Talk to your kids.
    Getting the word across to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking is very important. Many parents don't realize what their kids do after school, at a friend's house, or at a party. And with prom and graduation season right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to have these conversations with your kids. Alcohol related tragedies involving teens increase dramatically in April, May and June so now is the perfect time to talk to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking. If you need help initiating these conversations, check out our video “Wasted” which features real kids that were involved in an unfortunate situation involving underage drinking and the tragic consequences that resulted from it.
    For more information about alcohol and minors, visit the OLCC's website:
    If you are concerned about someone's alcohol abuse problems, here is a website of resources from Oregon's Department of Human Services that can help you:
    For more resources on National Alcohol Awareness Day, visit the Mental Health Services Administration website.