Worried about Tween and Teen Alcohol Use?

In a recent thread, we had some discussion about teens and alcohol/substance abuse. I stated that this is a problem at ALL high schools and I wanted to make clear I meant private schools as well. It is not just a public school problem.

There is a group here in Seattle that has been working long and hard on this issue. It's called Prevention Works in Seattle and their program is called Underage Drinking: Not a Minor Problem. It has a NE group and a SW group. It is lead by a smart and hard-working woman named Inga Manskopf who works out of Eckstein. They also have a blog. Here are some events they have coming up:

General Coalition Meeting
Thursdsay, February 25, 2010
7:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Eckstein Middle School
Free! Guiding Good Choices parenting workshops
Five Thursdays, February 25, March 4, 11, 18, 25, 2010
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
To register email Lisa Sharp at Seattle Public Schools by clicking here.
Free! Guiding Good Choices parenting workshops
Five Tuesdays, March 9, 16, 23, April 6, 13 (no class 3/30 -- Spring Break)
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
University Family YMCA
To register email Lisa Steenson at the YMCA by clicking here.

They also have a group in West Seattle that also provides parenting information.

Speaking of teens and drinking, here's a story from today's PI on parents drinking with their teens. It's interesting because being married to an Italian, they don't get all that upset over drinking with parents because, of course, it's done with food at a dinner table. The idea is to eat and not drink (but that may just be Italians).

The idea of having a keg party with your teens, partying with your teens(!) seems very wrong to me. I don't buy into the "they are going to drink anyway and it's safer here". That's a marginal idea and you can still have teens who drink too much and leave your house and drive home. Education is the best way to talk to teens about drinking (that and setting a good example). Being the "cool" parent never works.


SolvayGirl said…
I was raised in an Italian household and had a small (4oz) glass of wine with Sunday spaghetti at my grandmother's. It was mixed with water when I was very young. I don't think I drank it straight until my teens. I've never had a problem with alcohol, and still enjoy a healthy glass of red wine a few times a week.
I don't do this with my daughter, but have let her have a small glass with a special meal. I don't think this is a problem.
With that said, I would never serve alcohol to any of her friends, nor would I allow a "drinking" party in our home. I remember going to those in high school in the '70s, and kids got very drunk and did the stupid things kids do when drunk. Maybe it was better for the hosts' children (they were after all safe at home and did not need to get anywhere), but the other kids were just as at-risk as if they had been drinking in a quarry.
The private HS my daughter attends has written "Party Rules" for parents to use as a guide that cover everything from how "alone" the kids should be, to drinking etc. Parents meet as a committee to review and revise the rules as needed. It's a great guide, and nice to know that most parents are on the same page when it comes to kids' parties.
Patrick said…
A glass of wine with dinner once in a while is probably a good thing, showing an example of responsible drinking. A party is different.

I am appalled by the alcohol use statistics and wonder if they're real. I was in high school in the S.F. bay area in the 70s, and I don't think there were more than maybe 5% who were regular drinkers or binge drinkers.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
Wow, how many Italians are there here in Seattle! I'm Italian too. We had a glass of wine with dinner every night and I was allowed to have a glass from as young as I can remember. I never liked wine though, so never drank it, thus it wasn't an issue for me. Alcohol was not taboo in my house, it was part of dinner, and sometimes celebration, and I was able to see adults drinking very responsibly.

I remember several of my friends who had parents who allowed them to have drinking parties in their homes. I remember feeling a sense of safety when I "partying" and I knew there was a parent home. I knew that if a boy came on to strong, or if there was a fight (which sometimes happens when teens drink too much) an adult was there to call on. It sure beat the cemetery, without any chaperone, which is where we went when we had no place else to party.

I don't condone hosting parties with alcohol for teens, and I would not do it myself, but I do appreciate the parents who did, and who kept an eye on me when I was a teen.
LouiseM said…
I'd highly recommend the Guiding Good Choices program. My partner went last fall and I'm going this spring.

Good time to do it is when your kids are in middle school.
Unknown said…
Patrick -- I, too, went to high school in the 70s, graduating in '78. I was in a middle to upper middle class suburb in New Jersey. Lik eyou, I didn't see much alcohol use at all really, but there were an awful lot of us getting high during school, after school, and on the weekends. I think it depends on the crowd you run with, and the times you live in. From my perspective at the time, scoring weed was easier than buying beer. I supsect there are folks from my era who would describe my high school as a hard drinking school, and others who would describe it as a pretty clean and sober place.

As a parent, I am trying to remain open minded and open eyed. Things are different in many ways. My kids will screw up. After all, I did. I just hope not too badly.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
Yes, I agree with you Rosie. I think it is important to keep an open mind and remember what it was like to be a kid. Sure, there are a few of us who never drank or experimented with any drugs, but most of us, myself included, did.

I fully expect that at some point my kids will experiment with drinking alcohol, and they will probably try smoking pot too. Hopefully, if, and when they do, they will do it as responsibly as possible (be in a safe place with people they trust, not drive, etc). And, hopefully, they will move through, and past, their experimentation, like most of us did, and become productive citizens.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
I went to a predominantly white, suburban, middle class, high school outside of Houston, TX. I graduated in 1982. Most of the kids that I went to school with were clean cut, respectful, all american kids. Myself included. And most of us drank alcohol. Some of us drank a lot of alcohol. Many of us partied. Most of us had fake ID's so we could sneak into night clubs and drink.

There was also a small group of kids that got high regularly, and sold pot on campus. And, there were cigarrette smokers too. In fact the school made a "smoking area" for them, so they had a secluded place to go and smoke.

I don't think much has changed since when I went to school in 1983. But who knows maybe it was just those Texas suburbs???
Unknown said…
Does anyone know how the STEM vote went?
Jet City mom said…
I know that it is legal for your own children to drink- at your home- in your presence.
Fine if that is part of your culture.
It wasn't part of mine,- my husband was an alcoholic who has gone thru recovery & I would not be comfortable with casual drinking in the home.
I also think that kids rationalize " mom and dad- think it is ok when they are here- so what that they aren't here now!"

I attended schools in the Lake Washington district.
Hard liquor at parties- pick your own mushrooms in Carnation, smoking areas in the jr high.
Since my kids are now applying to graduate school & in their freshman year of college ( after a gap year traveling through India)
I can say that- some of us who made it through the 70's, have kids who rebelled by being honor role students!
this link has some good sites.
My daughters school had Party Party Patrol come and talk to the parent group- which was interesting.
If you could only do one thing- I would suggest get on the same page as your childs friends ( and your partner)- because your kids are just waiting for a chance to test you- and you need to give them a clear boundary and the knowledge that you are going to check in with their friends parents- making sure who is going to be home & what they allow.
Unknown said…
Underage drinking or exposure to abuse habits in the teenage is a very major problem and a big threat to the whole society. Elders must take the responsibility to guide the teens in the right path and help them lead a healthy life.
Inga Manskopf said…
Thanks for the post about Prevention Works in Seattle -- a community coalition to prevent underage drinking and substance abuse! To follow up . . .

The funding for the coalition ends in July. While we're currently writing grants to keep the coalition and our prevention programs, such as Guiding Good Choices, going after this school-year, it's not a sure thing that we will be around after July.

Which brings me to a related subject . . . after this school-year there may be zero drug/alcohol counselors (called Prevention Intervention Specialists by SPS) in any of Seattle's public schools. The few that currently work for the district are grant-funded and these grants are about to expire. There are other funding sources on the horizon, but they are time-limited and certainly won't cover all middle and high schools. This is unfortunate for many reasons but, in my opinion, it is especially unfortunate because many of the kids who need to enter substance abuse treatment don't receive treatment because they aren't being referred. School Prevention Intervention Specialists can serve as that link for our students.

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