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Parents – The Great Influence

Just recently there was a video from the Today Show that showed just how easily our underage youth are getting access to alcohol. Although this can be alarming, LiveFree! Coalition is encouraging parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of underage drinking. And to no surprise, parents, you play a critical role in your children’s decisions to experiment with alcohol. Their message is: Talk. They Hear You.

Developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Talk. They Hear You” is a message dedicated to increasing awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.

Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people’s decisions about alcohol consumption, especially when parents create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decisions. In fact, more than 80 percent of children say parents are the leading influence in their decision to drink or not.

With that information, parents are constantly looking for new ways to teach their children the values of being drug and alcohol free.  Throughout the Bay area, many groups are working together to raise awareness of the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.  Here’s where parents can get a chance to find out the right words to say, what to be on the lookout for, and hear from both kids and adults perspectives, right here in their own backyard to get expert information!

The 10th Annual Florida’s Kids and Alcohol Town Hall Meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on March 20 at the Digitorium on the St. Petersburg Colleges Seminole campus, 9200 113thSt. North, Seminole.

“Teens put their health and safety at risk when they try alcohol and drugs and parents don’t always know what power they have to stop them,” says Pinellas Park Police Chief Dorene Thomas, a member of LiveFree! “Parents get nervous when they don’t know what to say to their child, so sometimes they say nothing. You can help prevent teen drug abuse by discussing the consequences of drug use and how critical it is to make the right choices. The Town Hall Meeting may help you find the right words.”

Adult and youth panelists will hold a discussion about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco. The panel will be made up by members of the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE), Task Force, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), as well as teens from the LiveFree! clubs. Best yet, questions are open to the public, so you too, can get answers about your family’s approach to discussing the dangers of underage drinking.

“These young people are our future leaders—our future teachers, mayors, doctors, parents, and entertainers,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.  “As our youth and young adults face challenges, we as a community, need to effectively communicate with them in every way possible about the risks of underage drinking so that they have the necessary tools to make healthy and informed choices.

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