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How Parents Can Prevent Underage Drinking

By Robert Hall
Media Specialist at SAY San Diego North City Prevention Coalition

Emily Corrow, Natalie English and MADD’s Cristi Walker talking about underage drinking prevention on KUSI’s Good Morning San Diego

Thanks to KUSI TV, SAY San Diego Elevated gave thousands of San Diego parents a nudge to talk to their kids about alcohol.

“When we shout and we slam our doors and blast loud music it sounds like we don’t listen, but we do,” student Emily Corrow told KUSI’S Lisa Remillard. “Parents are a big influence on our lives.”

“Three out of four teens do listen to their parents when it comes to talking about alcohol,” explained fellow teen Natalie English. “For my parents, it was really important that I knew the consequences and what could happen in my life if I didn’t listen to them.”

Corrow and English are members of SAY San Diego Elevated at Serra High School. They appeared on KUSI’s “Good Morning San Diego” along with Cristi Walker from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).  The interview on April 21 was the culmination of MADD San Diego’s Powertalk 21 campaign.

“Today, we want [parents] to start the conversation with their kids about underage drinking if they haven’t already,” Walker said.  “Statistically, kids start thinking about alcohol as early as age eight. We see it at parties, we see it on TV. It’s everywhere.”

Walker said that heavy episodic or binge drinking is particularly harmful. However, there’s some good news from recent research.

“One in seven (teenagers) are binge drinking.  That means six out of seven are not,” she said. “It’s up to us and parents and peers to let them know that six out of seven are not drinking. Not everyone is doing it. We need to clear up that misperception that our kids have.”

Walker admitted that it’s a tough conversation to start, but Powertalk 21 gives parents some tools for talking to their children about underage drinking. “We need to start early, and talk often. Keep that conversation going, through middle school, high school, and on into college.”

Carrow said her parents “quoted a few statistics, they sat me down, and focused on where I was and what they could work with from there.”

“A lot of teens know the risks of underage drinking but they’re not applying it to themselves, so it’s our message to get that out there and tell them that it can have serious consequences in their life,” England added.

KUSI’s Remillard pointed out that underage drinking prevention is particularly important with prom and grad season coming up.

SAY San Diego Elevated is part of SAY San Diego Serra Real Connections at Serra High School in Tierrasanta.