PSA to parents: talk to kids about alcohol in grade school

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To fight underage drinking, a new PSA says parents should start talking to their kids about it when they are in grade school.

Talking to teens about underage drinking is already tough, but how about talking to a 9-year-old about it?

A New national PSA through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, says the earlier the better.

Experts in Shawnee County agree.

“We survey kids who are in the 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades here in Kansas and we have really good data in Shawnee County,” says Director of Prevention and Recovery Services in Topeka or PARS, Amy Arnett-German, “And what we find is there are kids as young as 6th grade that are drinking.”

About one in four Shawnee County teens admit to drinking underage. PARS is working to fix that.

“It’s still the number one drug of choice amongst youth in Shawnee County and in the state,” Arnett-German says.

She adds the discussion should start as early as nine years old.

“The message needs to be changed depending on which child you’re talking to,” she says.

“The key thing is to talk, talk early and talk often, make sure you’re relaying the same message consistently and you take a firm stance,” says director of Safe Streets Coalition, Kristi Pankratz.

Executive Director of Kansas Family Partnership, Michelle Voth, says it’s just like telling your child to wear a helmet or put on a seatbelt in the car.

“If we start talking about it in a logical way, not as a social problem or issue within a family that is just, this is a reality and children are going to be exposed to it and they’re going to have to learn how to say no,” Voth says.

Results from an underage drinking operation show police issued 73 citations last month. Those went to minors in possession of and consuming alcohol, and people hosting parties or giving alcohol to minors.

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