MURRAY CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – April is Alcohol Awareness Month and to get the message out Murray City along with the governor’s office have undertaken a massive citywide initiative to combat teen drinking.
Utah’s teen alcohol use is the lowest in the nation, but ask any student, like 18 year-old Allison Campbell, and they’ll tell you stories of how easy it is for teens to get alcohol.
“It’s pretty easy for some people because it’s just in the house and I don’t think parents really realize they’re gonna take it if they really want it, and I know some people it’s open for them so they will get it on the weekends,” she said.
Allison is part of the peer leadership program at Murray High School. The group brings attention to different causes and campaigns – teen drinking is one of them. She say growing up schools always pushed for kids to remain drug-free, but alcohol was rarely mentioned.
“There is like D.A.R.E. and like drug-free but, I don’t think they hit alcohol as much as I think they should,” added Campbell.
Today, her team was there as Murray City and the governor’s office launched a massive initiative reminding kids and parents of the dangers of drinking. The partnership includes the Murray City Mayor’s Office, law enforcement, school district leadership, Intermountain Medical Center and Parents Empowered – the state underage drinking prevention initiative.
“We’re working with our law enforcement community, we’re getting reports that they’re seeing fewer incidents that our DUI’s are down among teenage drivers, so all of that is good news but, we still have more to do,” says Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.
Murray City wants that number down to zero. These partners are using unique ways to get the message across to both parents and children. They’ll be using billboards, television ads, stickers on police vehicles, and interactive displays inside Intermountain Medical Center in Murray to accomplish that goal.
“What we hope to do is educate parents, kids, and the community to see the impact and to see those messages, and to do something about it,’ says David Grauer CEO of Intermountain Medical Center, ‘to have critical conversations between parents and children,” he adds.
Through their website Parents Empowered they’re offering tips for parents to talk to their children with constructive ways to keep them from consuming alcohol.
According to Parents Empowered, alcohol can seriously damage the growth process of a child’s brain. Which is still developing up until they turn 21 years-old. When kids begin drinking before the age of 15, they are 40% more likely to become alcohol-dependent. Their use of drugs also spikes.
Parents Empowered says since their launch in 2006, about 85% of Utah parents agree what children think of alcohol and their attitudes towards it, as well as children decision to consume alcohol, depends on what they do as parents.
“We urge parents to continue to speak with their children, to educate them about these problems, and to set proper examples in their homes,” says John T Nielsen with the Utah Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.
These leaders in the fight against teen drinking as well as students like Allison hope parents will take advantage of the resources available on ParentsEmpowered.Org to keep kids alcohol-free and bring and end to teen drinking in Utah.