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UNDERAGE DRINKING

Some Good News and Some Advice

September 27, 2013  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Michael Bihari, MD

During the past five years, the Falmouth Prevention Partnership has worked with the Falmouth Public Schools to survey students in grades 6 through 12. These surveys, done in 2009, 2011, and 2013, provide a picture of our kid’s involvement with substance abuse and the factors that place them at risk or protect them from unhealthy behaviors.

One important measure is a teen’s abuse of a substance in the past 30 days from the time they answered a question. The good news for Falmouth is the significant decrease in the 30-day use of alcohol over the past five years. Specifically, for Falmouth High School students the 30-day use of alcohol was down from 50.9% in 2009 to 43.4% in 2011 to 35.1% in 2013. You can see an analysis and the results of all the surveys at the Partnership website (www.falmouthprevention.org). The surveys can be found in Community Profile & Youth Surveys in the About FPP section of the site.

Parents Make the Difference

Studies have shown that as a parent you have a significant influence on your kids’ decisions about alcohol consumption, especially when you create a supportive and nurturing environment in which your children can make their own decisions.

An important survey question that we ask relates to a student’s perception of parental disapproval of underage drinking. A higher teen perception of parental disapproval seems to correlate with a decrease in underage drinking.

For example, the percent of Falmouth High School seniors who think that their parents would feel it is Wrong or Very Wrong for the student to drink alcohol was up from 68.4% in 2009 to 72.2% in 2011 to 92% in 2013. So kudos to the parents of Falmouth teens who seem to be sending a strong message to their kids!

To keep up the good work, learn to speak the language that your kids use when they text. Texting is a great way to communicate with your kids. Use or adapt any of the following sample text messages to start the alcohol conversation with your teen and keep it going:

“Be careful tonight. If your friends offer you a drink, just say you promised me no.”

“Have fun tonight! Keep your curfew in mind. Call me if you need anything.”

“Have fun tonight. Remember, alcohol can lead you 2 say things and do things u wish u hadn’t.”

“Have fun with u r friends. Remember, we are always here if u need anything.”

“Hey! Have fun tonight. Wanted 2 remind you not 2 drink at the party.”

“Hey! Let me know what u r doing tonight.”

“I trust you to make good decisions 2nite. Let me know if you need anything.”

“Have fun 2nite, but be safe. Love, Mom/Dad”

“I’m so glad you’re my son/daughter. You make me so proud.”

“It took me forever to write this text, but just wanted to say hi. I love you.”

“Just because your friends drink, doesn’t mean you have to. I’m here if you need anything.”

“Let me know who is going to be at the party. Are the parents going 2 B home?”

“Remember 2 always make good decisions. It only takes 1 bad 1 2 ruin all the good ones.”

“Remember our discussion about drinking. We love you too much to see anything bad happen to you.”

“Remember your promise to us. Be safe tonight. Love you.”

“Remember, not drinking will keep you from making decisions you may regret.”

“Resisting peer pressure is tough, but you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

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