Keeping Your Teen Safe at Holiday Parties
The holidays are upon us, and with them come many parties. Holiday parties can be a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate our friends and the beauty of the season. However, teen parties can also pose some risks for our children. Some of the things that can go wrong when teenagers are partying include binge drinking, drunk driving, arrest, unprotected sex, sexual assault, violent activity, injury and drug overdose. Here are some important facts for parents to know:
- 50% of teen partygoers report attending parties where alcohol, drugs or both are available.
- 87% of high school seniors have used alcohol.
- The average age at which teens begin to drink is 13.
- When teens drink, there is an increased likelihood of fights and other violence, teen sex and experimentation, and drunk driving.
- Underage drinking is a major factor in the two leading causes of teenage deaths: car crashes and fatal injuries.
- Across the nation, approximately 5,000 teens die each year as a result of underage drinking, including motor vehicle crashes, alcohol poisoning, and unintentional injuries.
- A 2015 survey by Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that 30% of teens have knowingly accepted a ride in the past year from a driver who had been drinking.
- Underage drinking is also linked to two-thirds of sexual assaults and date rapes of teens.
Here are some tips for parents to keep their teen safe while still enjoying holiday parties:
- Discuss the risks and your expectations. Surveys show that one of the top reasons teens say they choose to make responsible choices on a wide range of risky behaviors is because they don’t want to disappoint their parents. That’s why it’s important that you take the time to talk about the potential risks your teen may encounter and be very clear about the family rules before your teen attends any party. Specifically state that you expect them to not drink alcohol or take drugs.
- Never buy alcohol for your teen or host a party for your teen that includes alcohol, and do not allow them to attend parties where you know there will be alcohol. It is not a good idea to provide alcohol to your teen even at a party in your own home because you can be held liable.
- Don’t relax your rules just because it’s the holiday season. Teens still need limits and close monitoring.
- If you leave your teen home at night, or you host your own party at your home, be aware that unsupervised teens are at risk for alcohol and drug use. You should lock up your liquor and medicine cabinets.
- Role model responsible drinking yourself. Research demonstrates that teens are more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs if their parents have driven under the influence. So, although you only had one beer and waited two hours before you drove, your teen sees that you drink and drive. Be conscious of how your child is observing you.
- Statistics show that teenagers who are informed about how to be safe at parties are more likely to protect themselves and their friends. Teach your teens these safety tips:
- Know where you’re going, how you’re safely getting there, and how you’re safely getting home. (Remind your teen that you are a safe backup plan – they can call you for transportation if needed at any time!)
- Trust your own judgement. Don’t let peer pressure sway you into doing anything you don’t want to do. It’s okay to say no.
- Stay close to friends you trust. Decide ahead of time, as a group, to stick together and look after each other.
- Leave for somewhere safe with your trusted friends, if you feel unsafe at a venue or party. Do not go anywhere alone!
- Don’t ever leave your drink unattended, and never accept a drink from a stranger.
There are ways for your teen to enjoy the holidays and parties with their friends without compromising their safety. In addition to the suggestions above, you might want to read our previous blog, “Before You Let Your Teen Go To A Party.”