Underage binge-drinking rates remain high; parents need to honestly talk about alcohol with teens

"I was 16 once. I know what temptation is like."

PLANT CITY, Fla. - Cole Hanson admits he is no saint.

But when the Durant High School junior took his girlfriend to homecoming last weekend in Plant City, he made a smart decision: no beer, no booze and no alcohol.

He just drove his souped-up truck and had a good time along with his friends.

“It’s an excuse to get our trucks all dolled up nice and clean,” says Hanson, also the treasurer of the school’s FFA club. “And it’s also kinda nice to be able to drive your date in your ride.”

Cole’s mother, Julie Hasting, believed him. She knows Cole is no saint either, but they had previously talked about alcohol use.

She told him, if he does drink: “Call me, don’t call anyone else. We won’t ask any questions. We’ll come get you. Will we be upset with you? Yessss, but…”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says overall teen alcohol use is down. About one in three kids drinks.

However the CDC found 60 percent of those teenagers that do drink are binge-drinking, where guys consume five or more drinks in a two-hour span. The number is four or more drinks for women.

That is a dangerous amount of alcohol, especially when drinking and driving are involved.

Child experts say an honest, realistic talk about alcohol use between parents and kids, like the one Cole and his mother had, can be beneficial.

Such a talk is not exactly zero tolerance or condoning alcohol use, but it is dealing openly and safely with what-if scenarios.

“You’re not going to be able to pull the wool over on me,” says Hasting. “But at the same time, I am your friend with this. I was 16 once. I know what it can be like. I know what temptation is like.”

And maybe more important than Julie believing Cole is the son believes his mom.

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