NO UNDER 18'S ALLOWED: It's a parent's responsibility to educate their teen about the pitfalls of drinking. Picture: Independent Media
If you are the parent of a teen, there is a high chance they have or will encounter alcohol either through experimenting or through someone else’s drinking.

Teens have less physical tolerance to the effects of alcohol and their brains, which are still developing, are more susceptible to alcohol-related harm.

The South African Breweries (SAB) runs You Decide, an interactive under-age drinking roadshow, which aims to help educate teenagers about the dangers of consuming alcohol and equip them with ways to avoid peer pressure and to make the right choices in life. 

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), it is an adult’s responsibility to keep communication lines open with teenagers in order for them to understand the consequences and dangers of under-age drinking. Open communication also allows guidance to be given to teenagers with how to say no to peer pressure.

The campaign also speaks to parents and adults about the active role they play in their teens' lives. 

Here are a few tips:

* Listen to your children. The more open your relationship with your children is the more likely they will feel comfortable with talking to you about any issues, including alcohol. Listen to them, don’t judge and let them know they can come to you and trust you.

* Teach them to deal with peer pressure.

Give them some examples of how to say "no" without losing face. If your child is offered alcohol, here are some examples of what he or she can say, which includes using white lies that involve you or the other parent:

“No thanks.”

“Not today, thanks.”

“I don’t like the way it (beer, wine, cider) tastes.”

“I’ll be grounded for life if my dad finds out I’ve been drinking.”

“My mom will not teach me how to drive if she finds out I have been drinking.”

“I need all my brain cells for rugby practice (math test, homework) tomorrow.”

If your child is offered alcohol, here are some examples of what he or she can do:

Leave the scene

Change the subject

Laugh it off

* Teach them to say no to adults. They should learn to say no to adults who send them to the tavern or the shop to buy alcohol; or adults who offer them a taste or sip of an alcoholic drink and promise not to tell.

* Invest in recreational activities and in spending quality time with your children. Encourage your teens to take part in activities that develop interests and skills that will help them feel good about themselves without the use of alcohol.

Hobbies, school events, sports, healthy relationships and volunteer work are examples of such activities.

* Talk about substance abuse. If you don’t tell them the facts, someone else will and the "facts" they get from friends are seldom true.

Instead of waiting until a problem arises, talk to your teen about your concerns and the messages they may be getting from the media and their peers.

* Know the facts and then teach them. Know the facts about alcohol. You can’t expect your child to know the effects of alcohol on the body and the risks of alcohol misuse if you don’t have all the information yourself. Be informed and ensure your teenager knows the effects of alcohol and the dangers it presents. 

Staff Reporter