Thursday, December 07, 2006

Preventing Underage Drinking and Death

Yesterday I went to Chicago to discuss the future expansion of counties contributing to the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System (the state replica of the National system now in 17 states), as well as a 1st look at preliminary data from the 3 currently participating counties. (I am now on the state Advisory Board and Lake County will be the 4th participating county) The information that will be available will be very interesting and informative. I’ll post about that soon. I look forward to its full implementation.

For tomorrow, I have been asked to talk to a group at a local high school (actually out of “my” county, but it is very worthwhile to help them out). I will talk about the effect of drugs and alcohol on the adolescent brain (I have posted on that previously, a part of my speaking “tour” on this topic) and also begin their discussion/project on addressing underage drinking locally.

I’ll introduce some “solution priorities” arrived at in a consensus process at a series of town hall meetings here in Lake County sponsored by the Lake County After School Coalition. As these priorities are serving here in Lake County, I think they can serve as a jumping off point for them as well. Those that provided input to the priorities were parents, students, community “leaders”, and other “folks”. The priorities they came up with were:
1) Educate youth on skills needed to resist peer pressure and to make healthy choices
2) Educate parents on role modeling and communication skills
3) Enforce rules and make them consistent at school, home, police, and in the community and prosecute adults who provide alcohol to minors
4) Explain and enforce zero tolerance (zero blood alcohol in underage drivers)
5) Make the issue of underage drinking prevention a priority for everyone in the community

My added points:

Youth programs must be youth driven
Parents need to be parents, not friends
Social norms must be changed, underage drinking is not OK (driving or not)
Alcohol is the number one date rape drug

The process begins, things are happening.

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