A recent SAMSHA survey showed that 709,000 twelve to fourteen year olds are drinking in America today. Sixteen percent of those kids get their alcohol from a parent or guardian! In fact, 94% of the 12-14 year olds who drink get the alcohol from their home or someone else's home.
You can change those statistics by
(1) knowing where your kids are going and who is at home during those hours, and
(2) considering not having alcohol in your home if you have a teenager or pre-teen in your home.
Know the classic signs of kids who are using substances. Grades drop, a change from old friends to new unfamiliar ones, weight loss or gain, or getting in trouble at school or with the law. Educate yourself on the current culture--drugs of choice, ease of availability, cost for street drugs, and other statistics. Begin online--reading articles and blogs, accessing online exams, tools and resources, as well as being aware of the local treatment centers, counseling services and sober living or aftercare facility. Know how to help your children--before, during and after a situation occurs.
Be proactive. Don't be under-informed or intimidated. Even if it's uncomfortable, ask your kids questions such as, "Do kids in your grade/school drink in your presence? Where do they get it? What would they do if someone asked you to do something you didn't want to do?" One of the best things you can do to help kids stand up for themselves and their values (and against pressure) is to role-play how to get out of an uncomfortable situation or conversation. This is a fun activity, takes practice, but it will take away their insecurities and very likely open them up to talking about other issues that cause them pressure, fear, or concern.