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October 18th, 2018

Guest Opinion:Teens, Intoxicants, and Texting this Prom and Graduation Season

By Deb Paul, Publisher of the Londonderry Times

A driver’s license mixed with a few drinks, texting, and pot is dangerous for anyone, but the reckless combination can be even more so for inexperienced drivers.

Even when a parent trusts his or her own teenager to be conscientious, being certain that other teenagers will do the same is impossible.

As prom and graduation season approaches, parents; drunk-driving fears escalate and schools; activism against such activity increases. Though teens will ultimately make the final decisions in terms of their own safety, it doesn’t keep parents from waiting up at night.

It is a horrible feeling it ties your stomach in knots. When it comes to teens and drunk driving, there is both good news and bad news.

The good news is that since 1991, teen drunk driving nationwide has gone down by 54%, according to an October report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bad news is that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a third of those are alcohol related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Not every child makes it home safe, and only some live to tell about it. We hope that students are talking not only about the dangers of drinking and driving, but also about texting and driving and the importance of wearing a seat belt.

There are so many things we can’t change in our lives, like the color of our skin and who our parents are, but teenagers can change how they make decisions that will impact their entire lives.

It seems, to some extent, they are. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) gives several reasons for the reduction in teen drunk-driving incidents, including the decline of alcohol consumption and fewer teens driving.

Still, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens. To read the entire study, visit www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/impaired_driving/Drunk_Driving_in_NH.pdf.

This is something many people live with and see on a regular basis, so a message must be spread. I am a firm believer that if we can educate them at a young age, we are going to be able to save our future.

Start conversation with our kids early.

Every time you hear a story about the subject, share it.

It’s important for your children’s safety. If nothing else, when your child goes to prom in a few weeks, try to find a little comfort in the transportation arrangements.

Parents, be smart. You have to be proactive, and you have to have conversations constantly. It never can go away. It has to be in the forefront all the time. It has to be a priority.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving offers a handbook on its website to help parents talk to their teens about alcohol. Here are some of its talking points:

• Emphasize the fact that drinking is illegal for teens and for very good reasons.

• Let your teen know that not everyone their age is drinking. Teens often overestimate how many of their peers are drinking or have tried alcohol.

• Talk about how drinking affects the brain. Teens need to know how drinking will affect them and that a person who is drinking is not a good judge of how impaired they are.

• Explain your own position concerning your teen’s drinking. Discuss your family’s rules about alcohol and agree on the consequences for breaking the rules.

• Talk about what sometimes motivates teens to drink and discuss alternatives for achieving those goals.

• Discuss reasons for NOT drinking and the bad consequences that can result from drinking.

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