As a parent, caregiver or guardian, are you unsure of how or when to discuss the consequences of underage drinking with your children? There is good news: you are not alone, and there are resources available in Sacramento County to help.
Naturally, the timing never seems right to talk about alcohol and underage drinking. Many parents may be unsure if their children have already consumed alcohol, or may want to avoid bringing up their own past. Even though the topic might be difficult, it’s important to know that it is never too early or too late to have this talk and saying nothing could also send an unintended message.
The cold, hard truth, from a survey of youth in Sacramento County, showed that alcohol is their No.1 substance of choice and easiest to access. In another survey, youth confessed that parent interaction on the topic has a major influence on their decision on whether to consume alcohol. Talking initiates prevention; this is a firm principle of the Sacramento County Coalition for Youth (SCCY).
The Coalition was created to engage youth, families, neighborhoods, and schools in the community by providing them with the tools, education, and support needed to talk about alcohol.
Rachael Beutler, Sacramento County’s Prevention Coordinator for Alcohol and Drug Services, said, “It is a community problem and the only solution lies within the community. Youth in our county are drinking too early, too much and too often. It is our duty to teach the families, caregivers, neighborhoods and schools to come together so we can change the norms and reduce access.”
Last month, in an effort to address this community issue, the SCCY, in partnership with the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Arden Arcade, kicked-off a three-month long campaign called, “Talk. They Hear You.” The campaign is based on an underage drinking prevention program designed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It has been proven to lower substance abuse and access for youth nationwide. The campaign was designed to support, tools, and resources to get the conversation started. The concept is to talk often, use shorter conversations, and most importantly, listen to what youth have to say.
The Coalition’s main focus in Sacramento County is getting the word out. Resources are available on billboards, websites, and social media. The Coalition is reaching out by attending parent meetings at local high schools and giving presentations on how to engage in conversation with youth. This is a three-month long campaign, but families, schools, and communities will have resources all year long. SCCY provides resources on their website for parents to access. Resources include materials from the SAMHSA campaign, conversation starters, information on why to talk, when to talk and setting the example.
“The goal is to educate the county by providing tools and support that encourages parents to act,” said Joelle Orrock, Sacramento County Coalition for Youth Coordinator. “Together we can lower the county statistics of underage drinking.”
For more information and tools on how to start talking about underage drinking, visit these resources: