The Cleburne County Coalition would like to remind everyone that April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted throughout society and is regarded by many people as a normal part of growing up. Yet underage drinking is dangerous, not only for the drinker but also for society, as evident by the number of alcohol involved motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and other injuries.
Cleburne County has made great strides in lowering Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment Survey data in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 concerning the use of alcohol by students. In 2009 50.5% of these youth reported using alcohol at ieast once in their lifetime, as opposed to 36.7% in 2012, a drop of 13.8%. Data from 2009 showing by the time youth reach the 8th grade 46.6% have used alcohol at ieast once dropped to 28.0% in 2012, and in 2009 20.3% of 8th graders reported having drank in the past 30 days compared to 10.8% in 2012. The average age of first use of alcohol for 8th graders in 2009 was 11.7 years of age as compared to 12.0 years of age in 2012.
In 2009 27.6% of youth who drank reported drinking in their home and 57.5% reported drinking in someone else's home, for a total of 85.1%. In 2012 23.1% of youth who drank reported drinking in their home and 60.8% of youth who drank reported drinking in someone else's home, for a total of 83.9%. These statistics show it's important for parents to know where their children are going, that they will be properly supervised by adults while there, and that those adults know it's not ok for your child to drink alcohol.
In 2009 48.7% of 12th graders taking the APNA survey reported perceived favorable attitudes among parents toward the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, as compared to 31.1% in 2012. This last data alone shows Cleburne County is making great progress toward changing the way people think about underage drinking and that they're taking action toward teaching children that it's not okay to drink, it's harmful to the growing body and brain, it's dangerous, and it's against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to drink or be in possession of alcohol.
The greatest influence on young people's lives is usually their families. During the spring when proms, graduations, and parties are in full swing, be sure and talk to your child about underage drinking. Tell them that it's not "okay". Statistics show they're listening.