Parents, don’t mince words when it comes to talking about underage drinking

Oct 28, 2021, 4:33 PM | Updated: 8:38 pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah alcohol authorities along with the Parents Empowered group want parents to do more to stop underage drinking. And while the upcoming Halloween celebration is part of the timing for the request, a new survey that hints at “increased parental permissiveness in Utah” is also prompting the request.

Recent Student Health and Risk Prevention Survey

The SHARP survey is a school-based survey on the use of drugs and alcohol, and its most recent findings show that parents are still a major factor when it comes time for kids to decide for themselves whether or not to drink alcohol.

“We know that because that’s what the data shows,” said Tiffany Clason, the director of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

“When parents bond with their kids, and set clear no-drinking rules, their kids are much more likely to stay alcohol-free.”

Parents, hold fast to strong rules

But the data also shows what can happen if parents budge even slightly in their rules.

“Similar to previous years,” said Rob Timmerman, “the 2021 survey results showed that even a small amount of parental acceptability of underage drinking can lead to upticks in underage drinking.” 

Timmerman said that the survey revealed that, among students who reported that their parents felt it was very wrong for them to use alcohol, just 2.7 percent had used alcohol in the past 30 days. Only 10.5 percent had used alcohol in their lifetime.

In contrast, if kids said their parents thought it was just wrong rather than very wrong, drinking in the past 30 days increased to 14.1 percent and lifetime use increased to 41.7 percent.

Timmerman is the Prevention Program Regional Director for Utah Department of Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Long-lasting effects of underage drinking

“Underage drinking can change how brains develop, impairing memory, learning, and good judgement,” Timmerman said.

“In addition, underage drinking can be linked to poor academic performance, violence, depression, and many mental health and behavioral problems.”

Timmerman urges parents to start the conversation before children are 9 years old. And remember bonding, boundaries, and monitoring for your kids.


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Parents, don’t mince words when it comes to talking about underage drinking