Deaf Teens and Alcohol: What Every Parent Needs to Know!
TONIGHT Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Maryland School for the Deaf
Frederick Campus Ely Building – Seminar room
7 – 9 pm
Presenters: Laura Dreany, DASAM and Corporal Tom Johann, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office
Contact: Cheri Dowling or Pat Timm for registration and more information firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s a Parent to Do?: So, you’ve seen the newspaper headlines, the anti-drug ads on TV, the Myspace confessions of hungover teens…you’re not in the dark. You’ve even been a teen yourself. You know alcohol is a very real fact of life for many teens. You probably know that teens who drink are at frighteningly high risk for being in car crashes, for having unprotected sex, for being victims of violent crimes such as rape or assault, and for developing alcohol dependence later in life. You’re a parent of a Deaf teen and you know all these facts, but you still might be unsure of how to handle The Alcohol Issue with your teen.
Deaf Teens: Deaf teens may or may not be at greater risk for alcohol use than their hearing peers. Factors that decrease likelihood of teen alcohol problems include: strong, supportive relationships with parents and family, friendships with peers who don’t drink or pressure others to drink, involvement in after-school activities and sports, and parental discouragement of teen alcohol use. Deaf teens who may be isolated in hearing schools can be at greater risk for alcohol use, especially if they decide to drink in order to “fit in” with their hearing classmates.
Clearly, communication is an important factor here. A Deaf teen whose parents are able to communicate their values, expectations, and concerns about alcohol, is in a much better position than a Deaf teen whose parents don’t – or cannot – discuss these things. Simply having parents who sign is not enough. It’s what the parents communicate that is important. See this link for tips on how to do this. Having regular family dinners and chatting with your teen’s friends is another good way to keep tabs on what your teen might be up to.
But I Want to be a Cool Parent: When it comes to teen drinking, there are parents who lay down the law and expressly forbid their teen from going within 100 yards of an open beer bottle. There are parents who acknowledge that teen drinking is a reality, but encourage their teen to avoid it and try to find ways to make it easier for their teen to do so. Then there are parents who want to be cool, who may believe there is no way their teen is going to stay away from alcohol. These are the parents who may look the other way when their teen comes home at 3:00 am, reeking of alcohol. Some of these parents even host parties in their homes for their teens, providing alcohol and confiscating car keys to make sure no one drives home drunk. They may believe that this is the safest way to get their teen through adolescence; they may think they are upping their own – and their teen’s – cool factor. What they may be forgetting or minimizing, however, is that this is not only illegal, but also potentially dangerous and grounds for a lawsuit bigger than they might imagine.
Tell Us What You Think: If you’re the parent of a Deaf teen or someone who is interested in this topic, we’d love to know your thoughts, suggestions, and experiences with teens and alcohol. Is throwing an alcohol-themed party for your teen in your home a good idea? Have you or your teen experienced the consequences of teen alcohol use? How would you advise parents to deal with teens and alcohol?