The Dangers of Teen Drinking on Halloween
As a parent, celebrating Halloween brings up the topic of how to make sure your child is safe. When our kids are young, we can supervise their “trick or treat” activities and parties. However, monitoring teens isn’t as easy as watching young children.
Younger children rely on us to drive them places. We can talk with parents, assess situations, and prevent accidents from happening. Teens don’t want us to be anywhere near them at social functions. We no longer drive them places or stick around during parties. We don’t know what will happen or who will be at a party. We can’t protect our children from drunk drivers. We can’t control the unknown.
Not everyone has the same level of enjoyment during Halloween. Some families don’t celebrate while others dive into the pageantry surrounding the holiday. As kids grow older, some teens like to throw parties. The friends of teenagers will attend these parties since most people want to be a part of the fun. Being worried about what can happen at Halloween parties is normal. The world is scary enough, but Halloween takes scary to new levels.
Driving is dangerous. Every time we sit behind the wheel of a vehicle, we take a chance. We can’t control distracted or emotionally charged people. We don’t know who is under the influence of alcohol or substances. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates:
“7,680 pedestrians died in traffic or non-traffic incidents in 2018. Non-traffic incidents occur on non-traffic ways such as driveways, parking lots, or other private property. The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2018 6,283 pedestrians died in traffic crashes occurring on public roads.”
Walking or driving on Halloween night increases the risk of being injured. People are at parties, having fun, and sometimes drinking. Not everyone obeys the law or social expectations to have someone else drive them home if they are drunk. A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds between 2012-2016, “drunk drivers caused 44% of traffic fatalities on Halloween.” Not all teens can drive. The teens who don’t have a driver’s license are at risk of being hit by a vehicle. Safe Kids Worldwide reports, “twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year.”
The numbers are scary, but the numbers shouldn’t stop your teen from going to parties. Instead of keeping your teen home try these suggestions to decrease risk:
- Have your teen wear reflective tape
- Remind them to cross streets at crosswalks
- Carry glow sticks
- Know the route they plan on taking for “trick or treating” or going to a party
Teen Binge Drinking
Your teenager will want to go to parties. Being a part of a social group is understandable. Teens want to be accepted by their peers. If drinking is a part of the party, saying “no” can be difficult. Peer pressure, coupled with the desire for approval, can increase the risk of drinking. Often, alcohol, like beer, is viewed as harmless. A few beers at a party can seem innocent to a teen, but any alcohol is dangerous. The risk of binge drinking at parties is high The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes how:
“Most high school students who drank were binge drinkers (57.8%), and 43.8% of binge drinkers consumed eight or more drinks in a row. Despite progress, current drinking and binge drinking is common among high school students, and many students who binge drink do so at a high intensity (i.e., eight or more drinks in a row).
The prevalence of current drinking increased significantly with school grade from 23.4% among 9th-grade students to 42.4% among 12th-grade students, as did the prevalence of binge drinking, which was 10.4% among 9th-grade students; and 24.6% among 12th-grade students.”
The CDC goes on to say, “high school students who drink usually obtain alcohol from others, potentially including parents and guardians, is consistent with the state-specific relationship between youth and adult drinking .”
What Can We Do To Prevent Teen Drinking?
- Talk with your teen. Give them the information they need to say “no.”
- Be available to pick them up if they want to leave a party. Your teen might not be able to leave a party where drinking is taking place if they drove with a friend.
- Discuss your expectations. Halloween doesn’t change your rules on underage drinking. Remind your teen they are expected to follow the set guidelines.
- Listen to your teen. Create an open dialogue. Talking with your teen about their questions and concerns creates a chance to discuss other topics.
- Supervise the party. If you are uncomfortable with the party held somewhere else, have the party at your house. When you have the party at your home, you can control access to alcohol.
- Lock up the liquor. If a party is held at your home, find a way to ensure no one can access the liquor if you have any.
- Ask questions. Find out who is holding the party, where it is held, how your teen is getting there, and the parents.
- Meet your teen’s friends. Knowing who your teens spend time with is essential to understanding their group of friends.
- Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends. It is beneficial to know your teen’s friends’ parents. After you find out about the party, reach out to the parents hosting the party and ask the same questions you asked your teen.
- Set an example. Your teen is watching you. Teach your teen how to be responsible.
Halloween is a festive time of the year. The costumes and celebrations are a great way to have fun with family and friends. Children and teens dress up, hang out with their friends, “trick or treat,” or go to parties. The risk of an accident caused by drunk driving increases. Teens binge drinking at parties is another concern. The statistics aren’t a reason to keep your teen home on Halloween. Talking with your teen about binge-drinking and driving sober is essential to a safe Halloween. If you think your teen is at risk of binge-drinking or is a binge-drinker, Achieve Medical Center is here to answer your questions. We offer group and individual therapy. Our groups and individual therapy sessions focus on the needs of your teen. We can also identify an underlying mental health disorder that can increase your teen’s alcohol or substance abuse. To learn more, contact us at (858) 221-0344.