SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Parents Empowered is a statewide underage drinking prevention campaign focused on parents, who are the number one reason kids don't drink.
Its primary goals are to educate parents about the harms of underage drinking on the healthy, developing adolescent brain and provide them with proven skills to help keep their kids alcohol-free.
Studies show that if your child thinks you would view their drinking underage as very wrong, there's a very small chance they will drink - only about three percent.
But if your child perceives you would only view it as wrong or a little wrong, the likelihood dramatically increase, up to 37 percent of kids opting to drink. (Utah Student Health and Risk Prevention Study, 2019).
Heidi Dutson, Regional Director for Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, says as parents and role models, we hold great responsibility. Our actions and conversations with our children provide the tools and examples that help guide them to healthy decision-making.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that you talk to your child about the harms of underage drinking on developing brains at age nine.
Dutson says Parents Empowered asked Utah parents if their child were to get access to alcohol, where would it be? 32 percent of Utah parents said it would be at a party. When kids who drink were asked where they got their alcohol, 57 percent said it was at a party.
Only 12 percent of parents predicted that kids would get their alcohol from home. The reality is that 59 percent of the kids who drink get their alcohol at home or at someone else's home without any parental permission.
Dutson said, "But even more alarming is that 44 percent of Utah kids who drink get their alcohol at home, with their parents' permission."
So, while it's important to be vigilant about parties and making sure alcohol won't be present, it's equally important that kids not have access to alcohol at home, and that parents do not supply it to their kids.
The good news is that parents play a huge influence in a child’s decision of whether to drink underage or not. They really are listening! Utah data shows if kids believe their parents strongly disapprove of underage drinking and set clear rules against it, 97 percent
choose not to drink.
To learn more, please visit ParentsEmpowered.org.