Underage drinking is seen throughout the United States, with 50% of teens having at least one drink by the age of 15 and 70% of teens having at least one drink by the age of 18. With such staggering statistics in relation to our youth, many educators are asking themselves what they can do to make a difference in the lives of our youngsters. Schools play an important part in the development of a youth’s self-identity. Schools and teachers can play a vital role in shaping youth’s attitudes towards underage drinking and their understanding of the consequences related to underage drinking.

Schools and teachers can PROMOTE an environment that PROTECTS youth from underage drinking:

  • Encourage students to become involved in extracurricular and school activities, which is shown to reduce underage drinking
  • Have an environment where students can explore their talents, whether they are academic, musical, or athletic
  • Validate students and make them feel as if they belong by coming beside them as a mentor, teachers, or valued adult
  • Provide parents with information on underage drinking and have an open forum for discussion about these issues
  • Realize that early or late maturing individuals are at a higher risk than their peers

Schools and teachers can DECREASE the risk of teen alcohol use and the associated consequence:

  • Establish strict alcohol and drug policies for your school and ensure no favoritism is used when addressing issues
  • Consistently enforce school alcohol use policies, which will discourage future infractions
  • Help students resist peer pressure by providing age appropriate materials which will give them the knowledge, skills, and motivation to resist drinking
  • Refer students who are using alcohol to the appropriate outside help. Make sure that staff are trained to recognize alcohol problems and intervene with the appropriate resources

Schools and teachers can PARTNER with the community to PROTECT our youth:

  • Ensure alcohol rules are uniform throughout the community and schools
  • Make sure laws and rules around underage drinking are well publicized and known throughout the community
  • Encourage parties and local gathering to have protective barriers to prevent underage drinking

 

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/underagedrinking/index.html