April is Alcohol Awareness Month and several community agencies and individuals are looking to send a message to parents to help reduce access to alcohol for our teens.Why? Search Institute research suggests that kids who have strong developmental assets in their lives like positive role models, strong supervision, safe homes and schools, having appropriate limits and consequences are less likely to drink and more likely to thrive.
Conversely kids who report drinking have far fewer protective factors and are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors. According to a UConn Survey from 2000, the average age of onset for drinking in Fairfield County is considered to be 11.7 years old. More recent information is anecdotal, but the 8th-9th grade transition period is also of increasing concern. The risk of becoming addicted to alcohol during one's lifetime increases substantially with an earlier age of onset.
A recent CASA report finds 1 in 4 Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 are addicted, compared to 1 in 25 Americans who started using at age 21 or older. Ninety percent of Americans suffering from addiction started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18. (CASA)Time and time again we hear stories from kids, police, and parents that kids don't often need to access alcohol by purchasing it. It is available in their own fridges and liquor cabinets.
One of the easiest places for kids to access alcohol is right next to the milk...it’s in the fridge. The in coordination with: Youth Services, , New Canaan CARES Leadership Coalition, The New Canaan YMCA, and private individuals are promoting an awareness campaign during April.
We are asking parents to be aware of the alcohol they have in their homes and to make sure they take steps to account for its whereabouts and who has access to it. In almost all cases it is illegal to possess or consume alcohol for anyone under 21. See the laws and consequences here.
We plan to have refrigerators in high visibility placements throughout town, including; in front of Vine Cottage, inside the New Canaan YMCA lobby & near the New Canaan Library reference desk. We plan to have windows in downtown decorated by students reminding parents and kids about the health and social risks of underage drinking. We'll have posters made up and visible throughout town, and inside buildingsWe'll be doing an ongoing media campaign which includes collecting and disseminating information on Facebook through WeCareNC.
We plan to have the fridges on display during the weeks of April 16 & 23. We hope with high visibility of the "Fridge" throughout town, that the message will get out and people will "talk" about about reducing access to alcohol for our teens. Please start or join a conversation online, in your circle of friends or at your dinner table about the health and well being of our kids.We invite you to "like" us on Facebook to ensure you continue to get helpful tips and information throughout the remainder of the month.