Did you know that in 2019, 15% of high school kids in Rutland County reported they had their first alcoholic drink prior to age 13?
What is even more alarming is that 56% of Rutland County youth in grades 9-12 reported that they have consumed alcohol and 31% drank alcohol within the past 30 days of the survey*.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month and communities across the country, like Rutland, work to raise awareness about underage drinking and the dangers of it. You might be thinking “I don’t have kids”, “my kids are older than 21”, or perhaps “my kids would never do that, so this doesn’t apply to me”. The truth is that underage drinking affects us all including the youth drinking the alcohol, the people around them and our community.
Thankfully, in Rutland we have several groups and organizations, like Partners for Prevention, Mentor Connector, and the Vermont Youth Project to name a few, that are working to improve the lives of youth and to decrease substance use among them. Together they provide other outlets and opportunities for youth to make healthy choices around proper nutrition, healthy recreation, and socialization.
Here are two basic things you can do to help curb underage drinking:
KEEP YOUR ALCOHOL LOCKED UP - Recent Rutland County surveys show that the most common way that kids obtain alcohol is through a family member, or they take it from family without their knowledge. Many kids also report that they most often either drink at home or at a friend’s house. As a parent it is important to keep in touch with your kids, know where they are and who they are with**.
TALK WITH YOUR KIDS - Having an open conversation about alcohol and expectations with your kids is a great start. ParentUpVT.org is a great resource for ideas on how to have those awkward conversations.
There are many more resources and information available on how to reduce underage drinking, here are a few to get you started: