On behalf of Galveston County Community Coalition, I want to take this opportunity to remind parents that it is illegal, dangerous and irresponsible to provide alcohol to a minor.

All parents worry about their children’s health and safety. We worry about them doing well in school and staying away from all sorts of dangers, including drugs.

Unfortunately, too many parents do not caution their kids about the dangers of alcohol. They think that taking away the keys, giving kids a safe place to drink or arranging for a sober drive will make underage drinking OK, but that’s just not true.

Drinking and driving is certainly a significant public health issue, but this is not the only dangerous consequence of underage drinking.

Youth who drink alcohol are at risk for getting into fights, engaging in risky sexual behaviors that could result in teen pregnancy, being victims of physical or sexual assault and death from alcohol poisoning.

Additionally, alcohol can cause changes in brain development that may have lifelong consequences, or consumption of alcohol could trigger health issues such as diabetes or epilepsy.

Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who wait until they are 21.

Finally, it’s important to remember that underage drinking is against the law. It is illegal for youth under 21 to possess or consume alcohol.

Doing so results in a citation for minors in possession, which is a Class C misdemeanor.

Adults who provide alcohol to minors face a penalty as well. In Texas, making alcoholic beverages available to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor.

Parents, when you look at the facts and see the potential consequences, ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

Mary Beth Trevino is the coalition coordinator for the Bay Area Council on Drugs and Alcohol.

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