As many high school seniors go off for their summer breaks, many are anticipating entering college in the fall. In all, there are approximately 18 million college students in the US. Some of these young people (and not-so-young) are endeavoring to get educations in institutions known for their culture of drinking. Whether it’s warranted or not, fraternities and sororities are particularly reputed to be houses of party and drink.
As a response to this reputation, there are a few frat houses that have gone dry – meaning no alcohol will be served or consumed in the house. For example, Sigma Alpha Epsilon in Kansas voted to go dry after one member drank himself to death in 2009. A member of the advisory board of that fraternity estimated that 20% of fraternities nationwide have done dry, compared with zero percent fifteen years ago. At Kansas State University, nearly half the fraternities are dry.
But with only 20% of the country’s fraternities dry, there are thousands that will serve alcohol. And when these young people are not ready for that responsibility, the effects can be disastrous.
Parents may teach their kids how to drive, how to hit a baseball or catch a football or cook or do laundry. But many young people are not being taught to be responsible around alcohol. This doesn’t mean that parents have not tried. It may mean that they either misestimate the alcoholic environment these teens will enter. They may feel that a few conversations with their child, and the child’s agreement with not drinking, was enough. But when that college student faces a roomful of drinking peers, the pressure to join in is pretty high.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five college students drink. And of course, many of these people are underage. Close to 2,000 die from alcohol-related injuries each year. It could be alcohol poisoning or drowning after drinking or a dozen or more other causes. Nearly 600,000 will be injured while they are under the influence.
The best way to keep a college student from drinking is to start educating them on this subject long before they apply to colleges. Make it clear that you are 100% opposed to any drinking before they are 21 and any drug use ever. Set a good example yourself.
Also, it’s important to help them understand WHY. Use the information on websites like this one to illustrate the kind of harm that does occur to some people who drink and stress that no one is immune from this harm:
There are many, many stories – far too many stories – of alcohol and drug-related deaths on or around college campuses on this next site, should you need more information: http://compelledtoact.com/
You can protect your child from alcohol-related harm when he or she goes away to college. If you do a very good job, your child could even end up saving the life of someone else who was not so well educated.