To the Editor,
Did you know that less than half of parents ever discuss gambling issues with their children and that only 13 percent of parents believe that their child actually gambles for money (Decode, 2009)?
In reality, research shows that approximately 68% of youth between the ages of 14 and 21 reported having gambled in the last year, while 11 percent admitted to gambling twice a week or more (Welte, 2007). The scariest part is that 2.1 percent of these youth already meet the criteria for problem gambling, and 6.5 percent fall into the category of at-risk or problem gambling (Welte, 2007).
As a parent, the most important thing you can do to prevent your child from developing a problem with gambling is to talk to him/her early and often. The younger a child starts gambling, the more likely he/she is to develop a problem.
Here are some things to you can bring up:
· Gambling is not a way to make money.
· Gambling activities/establishments are businesses. They are set up so that the “house” makes money.
· The law of probability shows us that they longer you spend gambling, the more you will lose.
· There are consequences aside from risking money associated with gambling – lost relationships/jobs, drop in grades, mood changes and depression, increased likelihood of participation in other “risky” behaviors, and more.
So the next time your family sees a billboard for a gambling activity or a movie character participating in gambling activities, use that as a teachable moment to bring up the dangers associated with underage gambling and explain why you are opposed to youth gambling.
You can also visit DontBetYet.com to download activity sheets and watch a video about problem gambling with your children. If you’d like to learn more about youth gambling and problem gambling, contact Rockland Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependence, Inc. at RCADD.org or visit KnowTheOdds.com.
Ruth A. Bowles
Executive director of Rockland Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependence, Inc.