Just a few weeks ago I was writing about the Steubenville, Ohio rape case. As I spoke about the volatile mix of underage drinking, cyber-bullying and sexual assault, I noted this could happen anywhere…it could happen here. Today’s news echoes a similar incident in Saratoga… not Saratoga County, NY but Saratoga, California. Tragically, in this case the 15 year old girl committed suicide after the alleged assault. 

This case is still being investigated, but how many such tragedies will happen before we take a firm stand on underage drinking?  

Adolescent drinking is not a rite of passage. Many teens think social drinking and even bingeing are normal when getting together with friends. Teenagers bodies and brains are still developing. Parents, this is important. Any alcohol use jeopardizes your son’s or daughter’s well-being. Adolescent brains function differently. When in emotionally charged situations adolescents do not make decisions using the same rational processes as adults. So although your teen is generally responsible, he/she may behave very differently under  peer pressure and fueled by alcohol. 

There are far too many of these stories of teen lives destroyed when a ‘party’ gets out of control. Your values shape your child’s decisions more than you think. Letting your kids know you do not approve of underage drinking (even if other adults have different views on this) does influence their decisions. Talk to your kids about this and don’t provide alcohol to minors.  

Tomorrow: Alcohol is just one contributing factor in sexual assault like those in Steubenville. Social norms about respecting women and obtaining consent are key factors.