At four o’clock, you’d expect to see most junior high and high school students walking home, practicing with their soccer team or making plans on who’s going to the prom with whom. The last place you’d expect to see a teenager is in a bar or at home relaxing with a beer and yet, dontserveteens.gov has recently reported that more than seven percent of eighth graders, 16 percent of sophomores, and 23 percent of high school seniors have engaged in binge drinking.
However, on the flipside of these statistics, the same site also reported that in 2010, 59 percent of seniors reported no recent alcohol use, which does offer many concerned parents hope that their child is facing less peer pressure than they might have in previous years. To better understand and save your kid from the unfortunate disasters that can occur, it can help to know what leads them to start these damaging practices.
Caving to Peer Pressure
Everyone has probably felt like they had to adjust who they were to fit into a group, and sometimes these adjustments can be positive, like belonging to the honor’s society or joining the art club. But other times, as Ed Young has said “[t]hose who do not love themselves will inevitably look to compensate for that lack of love elsewhere.”
Meaning kids who are unloved and lack confidence in themselves will look to people and things that are harmful to them thinking that it will be a fast and easy escape from their pain and sadness. This, sadly, is never the case; kids and teens that do give in to peer pressure have a very difficult time getting their lives straightened out again, and in many cases, move closer toward a sharp decline.
Fill ‘er Up
A recent story on LATimes.com says that the rising prices of gas at the pump has discouraged underage drinking and driving, which offers some comfort to parents of teens and young adults who drink. If it’s a choice between “do I put $20 in the tank or spend that at the bar,” well, if a teen goes 50/50 with that amount, he’s still drink less than he would if gas were more affordable. This leads to some comfort to parents, even though it does lead many to think that their kids would die in a car crash if they had disposable income or if gas prices went down.
The Roller Coaster
Many teens and young adults do drugs and drink alcohol because they feel depressed or uncomfortable and don’t have good coping skills. These teens drink to medicate their feelings and can very easily overuse alcohol and drugs and do things that are harmful to themselves and others. They can go from having a couple of drinks and feeling happy to having a few more and getting into an accident, having unprotected sex or getting into a fist fight. It’s best to avoid drinking all together if you have a mood disorder and especially if your child is underage.
Right now is the best time for your child to step away from or off of the roller coaster of drugs and alcohol and step into the life of a teen that is alcohol and drug-free! It’s the better way to be.
Matthew Olson Matthew has a degree in interdisciplinary education and physical education. He has worked as a freelance writer and editor for the past 10 years in addition to teaching P.E. at a community college.