Summer vacation is underway for Iowa students and kids are enjoying time off from classes, hanging out with friends, and spending time with family. Unfortunately, studies show summer is also the time children might experiment with alcohol in fact, the chances your child will try alcohol for the first time doubles in the summer. The Iowa Department of Public Health encourages parents to talk to their children now about the dangers of underage drinking.
The 2012 Iowa Youth Survey found 6 percent of sixth-graders reported they had drunk alcohol at least once; that percentage jumped to 18 percent by ninth grade and 48 percent by 11th grade. Even so, when asked 'how wrong would your parents/guardians feel it would be for you to drink beer, wine or hard liquor without their permission?' an all-grade average of 91 percent of students said wrong or very wrong.
"Studies show kids who think their parents would disapprove of using substances like drugs and alcohol are less likely to try them," said IDPH Bureau of Substance Abuse chief DeAnn Decker. "Parents need to know that when they talk, their kids really do listen."
Often, parents have trouble initiating this kind of conversation or may not know exactly what to say. A campaign launched by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help. "Talk. They Hear You." provides tools and resources that help parents to talk to their children early - as early as 9 years of age - about the dangers of alcohol. Materials available on the web site give parents the information and confidence to start having conversations with their children long before their children are ever faced with taking a drink. For more information, visit www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov.
IDPH also funds a variety of prevention services for youth and parents focusing on reducing underage drinking; for example, the 'What Do You Throw Away' media campaign targets underage drinking by focusing on the affect alcohol use can have on their goals, dreams, and friendships. For more information, visit www.whatdoyouthrowaway.org.