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Parents Urged to Speak Up About Alcohol

A survey by young people in Illinois found that, despite peer pressure, most teens say no to alcohol. (V. Carter)
A survey by young people in Illinois found that, despite peer pressure, most teens say no to alcohol. (V. Carter)
March 9, 2018

TINLEY PARK, Ill. – Five months into a yearlong campaign to reduce underage drinking in Illinois, advocates say headway is being made.

"Know the No" began in Illinois last November. It's the brainchild of a Tinley Park-based group Leaders Opposed to Underage Drinking (LOUD).

The campaign is aimed at students and parents to dispel two myths: first, that most teens use alcohol, and second, that parents often facilitate it by looking the other way when their children drink because they might believe it's a part of being young.

Samantha Greenwald, prevention coordinator with the nonprofit community mental-health agency Bremen Youth Services, says many young people drink because of peer pressure, and often that continues into early adulthood.

"Even though you are 18, and potentially seen as an adult, that does not mean your brain is fully developed," says Greenwald. "And that does not mean you don't need guidance, especially when you are in a school setting and trying to figure out your life."

According to the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, nearly eight in 10 current underage drinkers reported drinking while with a group. The agency says more teens use alcohol than tobacco or other drugs, and 80 percent of young people say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not.

Nikita Brown is a prevention specialist with Bremen Youth Services and says a big problem is the lack of communication about drinking between adults and young people.

"There's this push to sort of 'hush hush under the rug', when in reality so much of misguided perceptions comes from adults not wanting to open up the discussion with the teens either," says Brown.

The 2016 Illinois Youth Survey conducted by the Center for Prevention found seven out of ten students say "no" to alcohol, despite the myth that underage drinking is common.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL