ALCOHOL abuse is a threat to youngsters in Mzansi. 
That’s why the You Decide road show has visited over 512 000 teenagers in over 963 schools since its launch in 2012.
Here are some tips from the road show, for parents who want to prevent underage drinking from taking place on their watch:
) Establish your own healthy drinking habits:
Consume alcohol responsibly in front of your children. Being exposed to booze by their parents, who are their role models, can be seen as confusing by most teenagers. And children may then feel free to go ahead and experiment with booze on their own.
Parents shouldn’t hide their alcohol consumption from their children and instead practise a healthy and open balance in the amount they drink.
Enforce the importance of legal age for alcohol consumption and promote healthy drinking.
The road show advises: There shouldn’t be a “do what I say and not what I do” rule in place.
) Parents should be role models:
Everything in moderation is an important lesson to learn and this is especially the case with booze.
Binge drinking is a typical teenage experiment. And not knowing their limit is a difficult lesson to learn.
Role models need to model healthy habits and instil morals around alcohol. Good adult drinking can be modelled by moderate drinking with friends and family – so that it is a social affair rather than a need.
When a child hears an adult say: “I’ve had a bad day, I need a drink,” that child learns that alcohol is a coping mechanism.
Parents should talk to children on their level, and allow them to ask questions about their drinking habits.
It’s vital that children have an understanding of why adults drink.
And it follows that parents should be conscious of how much, and how often, they drink.
) Communicate the dangers of underage drinking:
Parents should tell their kids about the bad effects of alcohol on a young person’s brain.
Youngsters should be informed that alcohol can affect long-term memory, cause liver damage, stunt growth and even disturb the hormonal balance necessary for normal development of organs, muscles and bones.
Parents should discuss the issue of alcohol in a non-judgmental tone, so that the child doesn’t feel interrogated or too scared to open up and discuss what’s on his or her mind.
At the You Decide road show, parents learn to reinforce family values and morals. They’re advised to consider how their own religion views alcohol.
Parents should also establish boundaries and discuss the consequences if the child should ever abuse their trust.
) Good communication:
Parents are counselled not to wait until their child has used alcohol before they discuss the subject. Peer pressure is everywhere. So kids need to be made aware of good and bad choices – and to know that they can talk to their parental role models before consuming booze.