It’s Friday night. A father drops his teen off at the high school football game so she can meet up with her friends. He is not naïve; he knows that among some of his daughter’s peers, there is likely to be drinking that occurs before or after the game. But this dad is going to do what he can to help his child remain alcohol-free. Not only did he drop his daughter off at the entrance and watch her walk in, he instructed her not to leave the stadium until he returns to pick her up after the game. Plus, there are plenty of adults looking on from the bleachers and walking to and from the concession stand during the game. Finally, as his daughter is getting out of the car he says, “Remember, answer your phone when I call and watch out for the slushies.”
SLUSHIES? What harm is there in a slushie you ask? Aside from the high sugar content and typical brain-freeze, not much. That is, until vodka or other alcohol is added to the mix. It has become a Friday night ritual among some teens; stopping by the local convenience store on the way to the game, grabbing a giant slushie, spiking them with alcohol and then walking around sipping on them, undetected by adults. This is happening with sports drinks and other bottled drinks brought into the stadium as well.
What can family members and teachers do?
- Warn teens that slushies and other drinks offered to them at the football game (or elsewhere) may be spiked, as some teens may find it amusing to try to get an unsuspecting peer, or even a preteen, to unintentionally drink alcohol. Tell children to stick to their own drinks.
- It is up to parents to monitor their children at football games, whether they are physically present, or they are checking in with them through text or calling.
- Teachers or school administrators who are present at the game are in a unique position that parents are often not. Teachers and school administrators have the ability (and more likely the “right” in your students’ minds) to walk among the student spectators. Where most teens/tweens would fall over with embarrassment seeing their parents coming toward them while in a crowd of friends, a teacher is more likely to get a high-five. This is the opportunity to check in on students and, if something or someone seems off, take precautionary action (appropriate to your school’s policy).
- Know the impact of alcohol on adolescents and share the facts with kids.
- Engage in regular, ongoing and open conversations at home and in the classroom. Talk about everyday stuff, as well as the heavier issues, like alcohol and other drugs.
Whether it’s a spiked slushie at a football game or some other alcoholic beverage at a different place and time, most students are likely to be offered a drink at some point. Encourage kids to find their personal motivation for being alcohol-free. They may attribute it to academics, sports, friendships, appearance, health or not wanting to disappoint their parents. Regardless, students will feel better equipped and more confident in saying ‘no’ if they have thought about it ahead of time.
The idea of sneaking alcohol into a football stadium is nothing new, and even when protective measures have been taken, there will be those who find a way around it. You are encouraged to take the above safeguards and stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your kids’ world, but more than anything, talk early and often to educate and empower them – because in the end, it is up to them to make the right choice.
Learn how to get the conversation started at StartTalking.Ohio.Gov.
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Return to the Ohio Department of Education’s Start Talking! Web page.