Underage Drinking: Awareness, Prevention Make a Difference
By Kristin Blank
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and what better time to get kids talking about the dangers of underage drinking?
SAMHSA’s Too Smart To Start Web site provides useful programs and strategies, downloadable materials, interactive games and exercises, and other resources to support youth, families, educators, and communities in responding to The Surgeon General's Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.
The site is divided into five categories: Tweens, Teens, Families, Educators, and Community Toolkit.
“Tweens”—generally, kids age 10 to 12—and teens will find interactive quizzes, games, and facts about alcohol.
In the section “Homework Help,” kids will find ways to apply what they learn about underage drinking to projects for health, art, English, math, and more. Teens will find ideas for presentations and speeches as well as community projects.
Teens especially face pressures to drink. A section called “Need Advice?” allows teens to submit questions to the site and receive answers from experts on topics like peer pressure, handling adults who drink too much, and the idea that drinking alcohol will combat shyness.
Tweens, teens, and families will find eCards in English and in Spanish promoting healthy messages to send to friends and loved ones. For example, a “Teens” eCard shows a basketball player dunking the ball accompanied by the words, “Stay on top of your game.” An eCard in the “Families” section asks, “Do you know what your kids know about alcohol?”
The eCards can be personalized with messages up to 450 characters long.
Educators can help change attitudes about teen drinking, create an environment that can protect youth from underage drinking, and decrease the risk of adolescent alcohol use and the associated negative consequences.
A fact sheet in this section alerts educators to signs of underage alcohol use, such as behavioral changes—drop in school performance or shift in groups of friends—and emotional changes, such as mood swings, flare-ups, irritability, defensiveness, or a “nothing matters” attitude.
Visit SAMHSA’s Too Smart To Start Web site to find these resources and more!
Underage Drinking: What Parents Need To Know
Parent Awareness of Youth Substance Use Varies
How Much Are Young People Drinking?