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CPASA sets new campaign against underage drinking

Published: Friday, June 14, 2013 3:05 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 14, 2013 3:33 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — The Community Partners Against Substance Abuse coalition (CPASA) has started a “Draw the Line” campaign to encourage parents and other adults to say no to underage drinking.

CPASA coordinator Dawn Conerton said the purpose of the campaign is to remind parents and adults to do their part in preventing underage drinking by talking to teens about the dangers of alcohol, by not providing alcohol to minors and by supervising teen parties.

To promote its campaign, CPASA has posted a “Draw the Line” pledge for parents and other adults to sign at www.cpasa.org/pledge.

“The good news is that the majority of parents do not provide alcohol to their children,” Conerton said. “But unfortunately there are local parents who supply alcohol for teen parties. Some parents think that ‘supervised’ drinking is ‘safe’ drinking, but the reality is that there is no safe way for underage youth to drink, especially in light of the recent brain research on alcohol and the teen brain.”

According to the 2012 Illinois Youth Survey taken in Bureau and Putnam counties, results showed that 40 percent of the eighth graders who drink in Bureau and Putnam counties indicated their parents had provided them with alcohol with permission, as well as 40 percent of the 10th graders and 38 percent of the 12th graders.

Conerton said studies have shown the teen years are one of the worst possible times to use alcohol because the brain is still actively developing, and won’t finish until the mid-20s. Drinking alcohol during the teen years can damage short- and long-term brain growth and that damage can be permanent, she said.

Studies show that teens who drink are also more likely to suffer blackouts, memory loss and potentially deadly alcohol poisoning from drinking, as well as cause damage to their ability to remember things in the future, Conerton said. Teen drinkers perform worse in school, are more likely to fall behind, and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence, she said.

In addition to the on-line “Draw the Line” website pledge, CPASA is also putting up billboards in the area with a “I Will Be a Parent, Not a Bartender.” message. The coalition will also get its message into the community through radio and newspaper ads, a direct mail campaign and booths at the county fairs, she said.

CPASA’s goal is to do everything possible to help parents understand the health and safety implications of underage drinking and to educate them about their legal responsibility, Conerton said.

Effective Jan. 1, 2013, Illinois law now states that individuals can be arrested and face criminal charges for simply allowing or permitting individuals under the age of 21 to drink alcohol at their residence or on their property, even if the individual did not directly supply or provide the underage person with alcohol, Conerton said.

The bottom line is underage drinking is hazardous to the health and safety of teens and parents play a major role in their child’s decision to make healthy choices, Conerton said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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