"Words to be Heard"
Edgar Snyder & Associates Scholarship Contest
Just recently, I had to deal with the emotional hardships brought forth by a car accident involving alcohol. A co-worker of mine who was heavily under the influence of alcohol made the decision to drive and, in doing so, hit two people causing one to die and the other to be severely hurt. My friend was not the victim in the accident; however, he was the culprit. Hearing about this unfortunate accident had an amazing impact on me and others who knew him. This kid had everything going for him. He was a top student, accomplished athlete, and was pursuing a college degree in kinesiology; but he will be facing consequences from this one serious mistake for the rest of his life. He is facing multiple charges including homicide by vehicle and may end up in prison.
Accidents involving alcohol are becoming more and more prevalent; especially involving the youth of America. People under the influence of alcohol often believe they are invincible and nothing serious can ever happen to them. In order to cut down on these types of accidents and underage drinking in general, teens need to be more educated, parents need to be more strict, punishments need to be more harsh, and alcohol needs to be more difficult to buy.
A good way to educate youth about the serious consequences of alcohol is to have them learn about someone who they can relate to who has been involved in an alcohol-related accident. They have to be informed of every detail, to the point where the knowledge has an emotional impact on them. This may seem harsh, but teens respond to things that they can relate to and the effect will then stay with them for a long time. Every time they have the opportunity to go to a party and consume alcohol, they will think about that one accident or that one friend they learned of and they may think twice about their actions.
I think that establishing an emotional connection will help the youth in making better decisions, because it has helped me. Learning about my friend's accident was the best way to completely discourage me from any interest in alcohol. I have always been extremely opposed to underage drinking, driving under the influence, and just out of control drinking in general, but to actually know someone who has basically ruined his life because of alcohol is so hard to deal with that I do not even have a slight interest in alcohol.
Not only do teens need to learn about alcohol-related situations involving people they know or can relate to, but they just need to be more educated about the effects of alcohol in general. High school health classes need to make alcohol consumption a huge part of their curriculum. It needs to have so much emphasis that teens almost become sick of learning about it. They need to be taught with graphic visual aids about the serious effects alcohol can have on the body as well as the effects it has on decision making and processing. Although car accidents involving alcohol are the most common events heard about in the news and in school, teens also need to be taught about the other problems such as rape, beatings, and murders that can be contributed to by alcohol. This is a serious substance that requires serious attention, and the youth need to know what could happen to them if they choose to consume alcohol.
Schools must also discourage underage drinking by imposing strict consequences.
My high school has a “zero tolerance” policy with regard to underage drinking. Athletes who are involved in underage drinking or who attend a party where alcohol is present can lose their sports eligibility for up to a full year. For most athletes, this is a serious consequence and drinking and partying are not worth the risk. If more schools had this type of policy, I truly believe drinking problems would become less of an issue. If something important is taken away from a teenager, they will more likely be disinclined to participate in such activities that would cause them this type of punishment. It also gives kids an out that their peers would understand.
Speaking of an "out," it seems these days that parents want to be more like their child's friend rather than to be the parent. They want to avoid conflict, so instead of drawing a hard line, they take the easy way out and allow their children to do what they "want" rather than what they "should." The responsibility of parents is to love, support, and teach their children right from wrong. It is very true that when a parent does not allow a child do something, the child usually becomes angry with the parent. This anger never lasts very long, however, and the child will eventually get over it. Parents need to be strong and consistent. They need to provide their children with the same kind of “out” that a school with a zero tolerance policy does.
They also need to set good examples for their kids. If they tell their kids it is bad to drink, then they themselves should control their drinking. If they tell their kids that it is bad to drink and drive, then they need to follow these same rules and not drive if they have been consuming alcohol. Experimenting with alcohol seems to be more acceptable to parents because it is not an illegal drug. Some parents view it as a right of passage. This thinking has got to change. In most cases, kids look to their parents as role models so it is the parent’s responsibility to set good rules and live as examples for their children. Kids are definitely influenced by their peers and by their friends, but ultimately it is their parents who they look to for guidance.
In the past few years, the police force has been cracking down more harshly on those who break the law by driving under the influence and by drinking underage. This is a great improvement, but I do not think that the law should stop there. The fines should be higher, and after multiple offenses, adults should have to face jail sentences and kids should be sent to a tough juvenile detention center. By making the consequences of underage drinking and driving under the influence more severe, teens will, most likely, be more discouraged from participating in these illegal acts.
Alcohol is a relatively inexpensive form of drugs and fairly easy for teens to obtain. To discourage them from buying this substance, a higher tax could be placed on it or the overall prices could be raised. Most teens do not have a steady income, so raising the price or placing a higher tax on alcohol, would make it harder for teens to be able to afford it. I think this would have an impact on not only youth but also adults. Americans could all drink less, so higher prices would discourage more people from buying alcohol and would help our society in general.
Alcohol needs to be more difficult to purchase as well. I think there should be limits as to how much alcohol a person can buy at one time as well as over a certain period of time. People have developed the ability to create false forms of identification, so there needs to be a more foolproof method of checking eligibility rather than through a driver’s license.
Most people in high school know someone who is a "partier." By saying partier, I mean that this is a person who likes to go out to parties or with friends to drink or experiment with drugs. Being a person with strong morals and beliefs, I have never struggled with sharing my strong opposition to underage drinking, but I understand where some people could have a problem verbalizing their opinions. It becomes difficult to express views when they are being expressed to a close friend. Most friends view each other as equals, so when you tell someone they are wrong, it may seem as though you think you are better than they are or trying to judge them which makes speaking up even harder. If you truly care about someone though, you need to tell them that the decisions they are making are poor. The friend may not want to hear what you have to say, but there is a chance that your words could stick with them. If you sit back and just allow your friends to continually engage in these inappropriate acts they could suffer the severe consequences related with alcohol and imagine the guilt you would feel. I personally do not know how I could live with myself if I knowingly allowed a friend to go to a party and they were in some way hurt or they in someway hurt someone else.
I think the best way to deal with a friend who is planning to drink is to first ask them not to and explain that drinking could cause them to do things they normally would not and could potentially ruin their reputation forever. If that didn't work, then the next plan would be to give that person other options like going out to eat, to a movie, or even bowling- anything that would be equally fun and not as dangerous. If all of these suggestions failed, then the last resort would be to tell the person that you are always available to pick him up if he is unfit to drive and pray that he will take advantage of the offer.
Underage drinking and drinking while under the influence are both major problems that affect the youth of America. It is not uncommon to know someone who has been involved in an alcohol-related accident these days, which is very sad. To cut down on these types of accidents, the youth needs to be better educated as to the effects alcohol has on the body and mind. They need to be informed that accidents can happen to anyone, and that no one is invincible. Parents need to be more aware of where their children go and what they are doing. People who violate the law should be given harsher punishments that discourage these acts, and alcohol needs to be more expensive and more difficult to buy.
Alcohol is a serious substance that has a negative effect on many people. As a friend to anyone who participates in drinking, it is important to tell them how you feel and to explain what you know about the dangers of alcohol. There are plenty of ways to have fun other than drinking. There is nothing more tragic than someone who has perished in an alcohol-related accident, or a person who has ruined his life because of an alcohol related-accident. Taking a stand against illegal or unhealthy use of alcohol, may cut down on the number of accidents and incidents of underage drinking. Essentially it all comes down to the ultimate question, "Is drinking really worth it?" I do not believe it is, and I think it is time to start making a change in society's view on alcohol.