Many newspaper articles claim binge drinking is a worsening problem among teenagers and on college campuses. These articles give the wrong impression. It’s time for some balanced reporting. The truth is the vast majority of students are doing the right thing.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 82 percent of young people ages 12 to 17 do not drink at all. And, the percentage of college freshmen who say they drink beer frequently or occasionally is at its lowest level since record-keeping began in 1966.
When it comes to preventing teen drinking, parents, as always, are the key to responsible behavior. According to the 2003 Roper Youth Poll, 74 percent of college-bound teenagers cite their parents as the primary influence on their decisions about whether or not to drink.
Parents should talk with their children openly and honestly and encourage them to respect themselves and the law. If you need help in talking the talk, call Family Talk (for parents) and College Talk (for teachers), a free call at 1-800-359-8255.
Available materials can make it easier for you to talk with young people about making smart choices in life, including whether or not to drink. Don’t forget to recognize the vast majority of teenagers and college students are good kids and responsible young adults.
IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.