May 23, 2013Dear Jeff and Debra:
Our daughter graduates from high school this spring and is beginning to make decisions about colleges. One of the things we’re concerned about is the quality of college life she’ll experience. We hear so much about binge drinking, date rape and other serious problems.
We’ve talked to her about making decisions based on the social environment and the college’s academic environment. What kinds of questions should we ask?
— Concerned Parents
When your daughter arrives on the college campus this fall, you want it to be a time of new experiences, new friendships, academic challenge and good memories that last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, for many students, these hopes are clouded by alcohol and negative consequences that follow. According to a report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the problems caused by excessive drinking on campus “are more significant, more destructive, and more costly than many parents recognize.”
Among students age 18 to 24, one out of three meet criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for dependence. Alcohol contributes to 599,000 injuries and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year. In addition, 696,000 students are assaulted by intoxicated students, 400,000 have unprotected sex, 100,000 report being too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex and 110,000 are arrested for alcohol related violations. About 3.3 million drive while under the influence of alcohol and 25 percent report academic problems related to drinking.
The first six weeks of the first semester are critical to students’ success in their first year. Alcohol can interfere with this success. Parents can help their college-bound sons and daughters by alerting them to the problems related to alcohol abuse. Talk about the penalties for underage drinking as well as the risks associated with being intoxicated. Explain to your daughter alcohol will affect her ability to make good judgments and render her more vulnerable to risky situations.
When she is intoxicated, she’s more likely to do things she’d never do sober. She is also an easier mark for unscrupulous people. Observe the students on a weekend at the college she is considering. Ask college administrators about the availability of alcohol-free activities and to describe in clear terms how they enforce underage drinking policies and Inquire about campus alcohol policies and alcohol-free living arrangements.
During your daughter’s first semester, call frequently. Ask about her living arrangement, roommates and what she is doing with her free time. You can stay involved even if she chooses a school far from home.
For more information, visit collegedrinkingpre
The Jays are professional interventionists who live in Grosse Pointe Farms and can be contacted at (313) 882-6921 or lovefirst.net.