Most 6-year-olds know that alcohol is only for adults. Yet, between the ages of 9 and 13, youth begin to think that alcohol use is okay.  As youth grow older, the chance that they use alcohol grows.  Approximately 10% of 12 year olds say they have used alcohol at least once.  By the age of 13 that number doubles.  And by the age of 15, approximately 50% have had at least one drink.

That’s why it’s never too early to start talking with young people about the dangers of underage drinking.  Research also tells us that parental disapproval of underage drinking is the number one reason youth choose not to drink alcohol.   A great time to have this conversation is during Alcohol Awareness Month, which has been observed every April since 1987 and is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD).

This April the focus is underage drinking, a problem that shatters young lives and communities across the nation. Motor vehicle crashes, alcohol poisoning, violence, and addiction are just some of the ways children under age 21 are being devastated by the inappropriate and illegal use of alcohol.

April 15, 2008, Malheur County- Safe Community Coalition hosted a Town Hall Meeting that addressed underage alcohol use. This April the Malheur County Coalition assisted in coordinating the Reach Out NowTeach-Ins for the fifth-grade classrooms at May Roberts, Pioneer and Cairo Elementary Schools. Reach Out Now Teach-Ins are held to discuss the risks of underage alcohol use.  School Counselor Stacey Englebert and Malheur County’s Prevention Coordinator Andrea Lockner joined leaders across the country who are conducting Teach-Ins during April’s Alcohol Awareness Month.

At the end of the Teach-In, students should be able to:

• Describe some of the effects of alcohol on the brain and body.
• Consequences of drinking alcohol.
• Alternatives to drinking alcohol.

Parental disapproval of underage alcohol use has been identified as one of the key reasons youth choose not to drink.  The goal of the REACH OUT NOW program is to prevent underage alcohol use. For a copy of the Reach Out Now materials or to schedule your own Teach In please call Lifeways (541) 889-9167.  It is free of charge.