What can a parent with a no-alcohol policy do about the issues surrounding underage drinking? One strategy that some parents have begun using is parent pacts. The first step is to get to know the parents of their child’s friends. This is often rare in today’s communities, and in itself can be helpful as a way to keep track of kids more effectively – where they are and what they are doing when they are not at home. The next step is to use positive adult peer pressure. Parents can recruit these other parents to meet together and discuss their reasons for not allowing or providing alcohol for their teens, and ask for other parents to sign a group agreement pact that says they will agree to the same no-underage-drinking policy.
Those parents who agree then have a safe network of homes where they can allow their teens to hang out without worry, knowing that they will be well supervised in an alcohol-free environment. For teens, it helps them to know that their friends have to follow the same rules, and reduces the feared social stigma of not drinking. The parent pact group can also provide support and backup for each other in the unfortunate event that some sort of action needs to be taken with teens who have broken the rules, or with other parents who may be providing alcohol to minors and need to be confronted or reported.
Additional information and resources
- “S.A.F.E. Youth Parent Pledge” [SAFE] Downloadable PDF document
- “Alcohol Safety Network Pledge: Arkansas Families Working Together to Stop Underage Drinking” [Arkansas Government] Downloadable PDF document
- “Teen alcohol use is a problem in West Sonoma County” [Sonoma Family Life]
- PR News Wire
- Perth Now (Australia)
- LA Times blog
- California Injury Blog