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LiveFree! Executive Director Featured in Florida Courier

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Help Teens Avoid the Temptations of Alcohol this Graduation Season and Beyond

LiveFree! Coalition Offers Tips to Keep Teens Safe

Special to the Florida Courier – Graduations are a time for celebration. They mark a step closer to adulthood and starting a new chapter.  For teens, these celebrations can also be a time for great temptation as celebrations of all sizes can lead to underage drinking, while alcohol is more plentiful and accessible and parents are distracted by the festivities.

Underage drinking is widespread problem among today’s youth. By age 18, more than 70 percent of teens have tried alcohol (according to the National Institutes of Health), and this statistic is especially alarming for parents of teenagers with their driver licenses.

To help protect teens and the community this graduation season and well into summer when children are home and more parties are planned, Jackie Griffin, executive director of LiveFree! Coalition, an alliance in Pinellas County that promotes awareness about the harmful effects of substance abuse among youth, young adults and adults, offers the following tips:

  • Lose the booze. Concerned about your teen attending a party where you know alcohol will be readily available? Considering hosting a kid-friendly, alcohol-free party for your graduate. It’s the best way to eliminate temptation and ensure that everyone (even adults) get home safely.
  • Do not take a vacation from vigilance. The kids are just entering summer vacation and things are likely very relaxed at home. But now is not the time to relax the rules. Store the alcohol in a safe place, keep an eye out for signs of drinking and remind your children of the consequences.
  • Express your expectations. Talk to your kids about your expectations for them at grad parties. Address alcohol head-on and reinforce the idea that while adults might be drinking, alcohol is not a party favor for everyone.
  • Set an example. Remember that kids often learn by example. Do not drink excessively at graduation and summer parties and ensure that you have a designated driver. If you are hosting, then make sure that your guests also have arranged for a sober driver and that there are plenty of non-alcoholic refreshments available.

“Grad parties and summertime are treasured time with family and friends. We need to do everything possible in keeping our youth and community safe and surrounded by positive adults setting the example,” added Griffin. “Taking the time to establish rules and open the lines of communication can really keep them safe this during the next few months and beyond.”

Looking for more tips for keeping teens safe and alcohol-free year round?  Visit for some events, groups and ideas.

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