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Letters to the Editor
Lincoln Daily News
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Lincoln, IL  62656

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Teens need to hear this message from you

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To the editor:

If we all did better in preventing youth from drinking, our communities would be a safer, better place. However, all too often our prevention efforts are little more than catch phrases, such as "just say no" to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Although the "no-use" message is an important one, it is only part of the solution to a problem that stubbornly refuses to go away.

Communities and parents sometimes deny the seriousness of underage drinking by pretending it doesn't exist or insisting that it's a "rite of passage" all teenagers must go through before adulthood. Unfortunately, in the meantime, their "rite of passage" alcohol use costs Americans more than $58 billion a year, including traffic crashes, violent crime, drowning, suicide attempts, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisonings and treatment. Few people think about these consequences until it happens to them personally or to someone they know.

Teenagers, on the other hand, see drinking all around them. They see it during sporting events, in the media, in restaurants, etc. If they believe what they are seeing and hearing, then teenagers believe that drinking is essential to having a good time. Studies also show that teenagers tend to think that more of their peers drink than actually do. This perpetuates the myth "all kids drink," thus setting up inaccurate expectations that they should be drinking too.

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What teenagers don't hear often enough is the rewards of not drinking. There are plenty of young men and women right here in Logan County who don't need alcohol to have fun or have friends. These teens are excelling in many areas of their lives, free from the disabling effects of alcohol on their developing brains and who they are as a person.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. We are encouraging you as a community to do what you can to support teenagers in their decision not to drink. We also encourage parents to start having conversations early and often with their children about underage drinking and their disapproval of it. We ask that you show the youth in your community that you care about them and their future by taking a stand against underage drinking.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can make a difference, attend an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Task Force meeting the second Friday of the month at the Logan County Department of Public Health at noon.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Task Force

Camille Springer, Logan County Community Prevention Coordinator

[Posted April 20, 2010]

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