Oct. 7, 2010By Stephanie Choate Observer staff
Parents of teenagers are the focus of a campaign to stop underage drinking,
Connecting Youth, or CY, is re-launching its Lead By Example campaign, part of a statewide effort called Parent Up led by the Vermont Department of Health. The campaign works to help parents learn how and when to talk to teens about drinking.
“We know from survey data and research nationally that parents actually have the most influence over whether or not their children choose to use (drugs and alcohol), and most parents don’t recognize that,” said CY Program Director Christine Lloyd-Newberry. “Part of our goal is reaching parents and giving them the tools and knowledge to lead by example.”
CY, a local organization that works to create a safe environment for young people, is coordinating the efforts in Chittenden South Supervisory Union, which includes Williston. The group aims to raise awareness about the breadth of the problem, and educate parents about how to deal with it.
The campaign’s goal is to increase the number of parents that talk to their children about alcohol at least once a month. In the next few months, CY will encourage parents to learn the laws and risks of underage drinking, talk to their teens about it and set guidelines.
Statewide, the Department of Health will place ads in local newspapers and magazine, mail out postcards, and play radio ads.
“We are trying to sort of refocus for the fall,” said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner for state alcohol and drug abuse programs. “We’re trying to highlight again this is a resource that’s out there and trying to encourage parents to go to the website.”
The Parent Up website, www.parentupvt.org, has tips for parents on how to prevent their kids from drinking, how to recognize warning signs of drinking and what they can do if they know their teens are drinking.
“There’s some important information there that can be helpful to parents who have young teens and middle schoolers,” Cimaglio said. “We hope parents just remember it’s there and that they can revisit it as they see fit.”
Lloyd-Newberry said one of the most effective ways to curb underage drinking is to set clear guidelines.
“Talking early and often to your children, setting really clearly established no-use standards and doing that together as a family,” she said.
CY first launched the campaign last September, after an online CY survey of parents found that only 52 percent of parents with eighth through 12th grade children talk to their teens about alcohol every month.
CY leaders think the program is working.
According to a follow-up survey in June of more than 320 parents, more parents said they did not think it was OK for teens to drink and would not allow their child to go to a party where alcohol is present. The survey also showed an increase in knowledge about the laws surrounding underage drinking and a decrease in the number of parents who thought letting teens drink at home would encourage responsible drinking.
“There has been a consistent movement in the perceptions of parents, which is really exciting to see,” Lloyd-Newberry said.
For more information, visit CY’s website, www.seewhy.info, or the statewide site, www.parentupvt.org.