Reducing Youth Access to Alcohol

As a parent, you play a critical role in whether or not your child drinks alcohol underage. You control the availability of alcohol in the household, serve as role model for alcohol use, influence family norms on alcohol use, and set alcohol-related household expectations. Nevertheless, the efforts of even the most conscientious parents can be challenged by easy youth access to alcohol throughout the community.

The following strategies can help you play an active role in reducing your child’s access to alcohol.

Monitor the alcohol supply in the home

You can reduce your child’s access to alcohol by keeping alcohol out of the home or making it difficult to access. Store alcohol in a locked cabinet or closet, or closely keep track of the alcohol stored in your home. Discuss your household expectations about alcohol in the home with your child as well.

Talk with other parents

Get to know the parents of your child’s friends and classmates to create an open line of communication when your child is socializing outside of the home. Discuss whether or not alcohol is accessible to youth and if parties or gatherings occurring in other homes are supervised by adults.

Never provide alcohol to your child or their underage friends

It is illegal to provide alcohol to any person under age 21, and doing so could result in criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits. Additionally, it may send the message that underage drinking is okay and potentially increase the likelihood of alcohol-related problems down the line.

Begin or join community efforts to reduce youth access to alcohol

As a parent, you are often one of the most visible and effective leaders in protecting the health and safety of children in your community. Contact your local public health agency or school to become involved in efforts to prevent underage drinking. In addition, you can:
Meet with city council members to pass local ordinances to reduce youth access to alcohol.
Meet with owners and managers of alcohol establishments to encourage them to adopt practices to reduce sales to youth.
Encourage local law enforcement to conduct compliance checks, keeping retail establishments accountable for selling alcohol to minors.
Encourage faith organizations, schools, and other groups to implement policies to reduce underage access to alcohol on their property and at their events.