As parents, certain stories catch our eyes and make us stop and think.
Recently, a news story illustrated the link between underage drinking and sexual assault. Regardless of the final charges, this story provided a teachable moment for adults, an important reminder that there's a strong connection between alcohol and sexual assault.
But first I need to make one statement -- I don't want to make conclusions that aren't supported yet about the woman's guilt or innocence or whether she used alcohol to aid the alleged sexual assault; she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Regardless of what she may have done, there is a strong connection between alcohol and sexual assault.
Here’s one basic fact -- alcohol is the drug most used to facilitate sexual assault, and it's used in half of all sexual assaults. Additionally, it inhibits your teen child’s ability to:
Sadly, when an underage victim was drinking, they often don't feel safe going to the police to report the assault, which contributes to under-reporting and may lead to further assaults.
Events like these are traumatic and awful, and they often shake a community to its core. People are often left wondering "What do we do to stop this from happening again?”
That's where you, the parent or guardian come in.
You know that frank and honest conversations with your community and between parents and kids can help prevent them from occurring in the first place, as can enforcing laws and policies that prevent underage drinking.
You know that preventing underage drinking will dramatically improve the health outcomes of teens, reduce sexual assaults, and lower instances of violence.
You know that underage drinking contributes to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year.
You know these things, and you know that the time to start doing them is now, not after the next tragedy.
All of us at Wellspring Center for Prevention and the Middlesex County Coalition for Healthy Communities encourage you to do your best to help prevent underage drinking. Also, you might want to consider joining the Coalition so that it can use your support to continue the work it is already doing in local schools and communities.
Protecting the health and safety of young people is important for everyone.
For more information about our Coalition (and join), please go to https://wellspringprevention.org/coalition-for-healthy-communities.