Help stop underage drinking in Stark County

As a parent, would you make every effort possible to reduce your child’s chances of:

Visits to the emergency room
Encountering legal problems
Physical and sexual assault
Homicide
Suicide
Life-long addictions
Practicing risky and unsafe sex
Death

You can by making a commitment to stop underage drinking by your children and all children in the community. You’ve no doubt heard the term “it takes a village to raise a child.” It takes a community to stop underage drinking.

On April 21, Stark County took the first step to address underage drinking by holding a town hall meeting. Calling on the Kewanee Alcohol and Drug Task Force, participants learned about the prevalence of underage drinking at the local level as well as ways to combat the problem. A follow up meeting is planned for June 8, at 6:00 pm at the Stark County High School cafeteria to discuss the next steps. This is your opportunity to make a difference.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. In fact, youth aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the US. Where do kids get the alcohol; from family and friends!

Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life. Factors that put teens at higher risk for abusing alcohol include high levels of impulsiveness, novelty seeking, and aggressive behavior; having conduct or behavior problems, and a tendency not to consider the possible negative consequences.

Research shows that children whose parents are actively involved in their lives are less likely to drink alcohol. Steps you can take as a parent to make that happen include:

Participating in the community effort to stop underage drinking by attending the meeting on June 8, at 6:00 pm at the High School cafeteria.

Start talking to your children at an early age about drinking in order to have a real impact on your child’s decisions about alcohol.
Build an open and trusting relationship with your child by having frequent conversations.

Having lots of little talks are more effective than one “big talk” about alcohol.

Make your views and rules clear about alcohol.

Tailor your conversations to your child’s age. What you say to a nine year old is very different from what you would say to a 15 year old.

What you do is just as important as what you say. Lead by example

Let’s make Stark County stand out among communities in Illinois by putting a stop to underage drinking. For more information about the community meeting, contact Beth Smith at the Henry and Stark County Health Department at 309-852-0197.

The Stark Citizen’s Mental Health Task Force meets quarterly at the Bradford Library. The purpose of the group is to promote mental health access, advocacy, and education in Stark County. The next meeting of the Task Force will be August 18. Anyone interested in joining the group is welcome. For more information, contact Beth Smith at the Henry and Stark County Health Department at 309-852-0197.

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