Homecoming is an annual rite of passage for high school students, and one that often involves alcohol. Underage drinking and alcohol-related crashes involving minors tend to increase during homecoming season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
· 22% of teen drivers involved in fatal car crashes were drinking.
· More than half of fatal motor accidents involving teen drivers occur on weekends.
· Teens who use alcohol are far more likely to binge drink than adults.
Homecoming can come with more chances and pressures to drink. As students get ready for the big game and dance, here are 5 actions parents can take to prevent underage drinking.
Discuss your expectations about alcohol use: Parents may feel anything they say to their teen goes in one ear and out the other. In fact, parents do influence teens’ drinking decisions. Research shows children may interpret a parent’s failure to talk about underage drinking as indifference, making them more likely to use alcohol. Have regular conversations with your teen about alcohol misuse, and specifically talk about it before events, like homecoming, that may include alcohol.
Find out who your teen will be with and talk with the other students’ parents: Ask whether adults will be present if teens come by after the official event and consider the other family’s attitude toward underage drinking. Even though it is illegal and dangerous, some parents choose to provide alcohol to teens in their home. In the state of Iowa it is illegal to host a party with alcohol for youth per the statewide Social Host Ordinance. Asking questions won’t score you any “cool” points with your kid, but it will help keep your teen safe.
Provide a sober after-party space: Many students want the night to continue after the game or dance ends. Providing an alcohol-free environment allows the party to keep going safely. And it’s important for parents to actively supervise after-parties. Adults can be held responsible for failing to supervise minors who are later caught drinking, even if the adult didn’t supply or know about the booze.
Offer to drive: Providing a guaranteed designated driver ensures your child won’t end up in a car with an intoxicated person behind the wheel. Driving your teen also removes other risks, such as texting or distracted driving, which may increase with the excitement of the evening.
Let your teen know you are “on call”: While parents should not condone underage drinking, it’s important for teens to know they can call for help if they or their friends don’t have a safe ride or are in danger.