Like many of your readers, I am the mother of a teen. And, as is the case with most teenagers, my son is aware of the world around him. A world that includes things like alcohol beverages, cars, Viagra and a whole host of other things intended for adults.
As parents, our job is to help our teens navigate through that adult world, setting parameters for what is — and is not — appropriate for them. That responsibility also includes enforcing consequences for breaking those rules. If my son were drinking, he would be punished. If he tried to tell me that the reason for his behavior was that he saw a beer ad on the Super Bowl, he’d be in even more trouble. C’mon. There isn’t a teen out there who doesn’t know the drinking age is 21.
Pretending that adult beverages don’t exist, or limiting product choices for adults as a way to stop teen drinking, is naive at best. The real way to prevent underage drinking is three-fold: Step one: be an active parent — time and again, research among youth has shown that parents, not advertisers are the key influence in a youth’s decision about whether or not to drink (2006 Roper Youth Report). Step two: help retailers spot fake IDs. Step three: encourage adults and parents — who the federal government’s own research shows are the primary suppliers of alcohol to teens — not to aid and abet minors.
I am proud to say that for nearly 20 years, I have headed the alcohol awareness and education efforts for Anheuser-Busch, which include programs designed to help parents exert the right kind of parental influence over their kids, give retailers tools to check IDs and encourage parents and other adults not to buy for minors.
I am 49 years old. I enjoy sweet and fruity alcohol drinks. I also drive a car. These are two activities my 15-year old is not legally old enough to do. Thank goodness common sense is not in short supply at my house or I would think the way to control a teen is to act like one.
Francine I. Katz
Vice President Communications and Consumer Affairs
Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc.
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