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Underage Drinking is Costly


Parents play a crucial role in discouraging their children from using alcohol, but fewer than 50% of Kansas youth report that their parents have talked to them about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs at least once in the last year. Parents are not the only influence in youth's decision to consume or not consume alcohol. This is a community problem and the Jefferson County Alliance's newly formed Prevention Task Force will take a comprehensive approach in identifying influencing factors and environmental, as well as, individual strategies that can be implemented to combat underage drinking in our community.

The Jefferson County Alliance Prevention Task Force will be using Jefferson County specific Communities That Care (CTC) student survey data to analyze the influencing factors in order to develop the strategic plan and choose prevention strategies to be implemented.   Jefferson County CTC data shows that 30

day alcohol use is higher than any other substance used and use has remained steady, while the state data has shown a decreasing trend over the past years. Neighboring counties have implemented prevention strategies successfully with their trend of underage drinking reports continuing to decrease.

The Jefferson County Alliance's Prevention Task Force has begun assessing the contributing factors of underage drinking in our community and will be developing a strategic plan to implement strategies to lower the risk factors specifically associated with underage drinking in Jefferson County.  The Task Force has agreed to be a Target Community committed to completing the Strategic Prevention Framework process under the leadership assistance from DCCCA Regional Prevention Center Specialist, Deanne Armstrong.   After the completed documents and plans are approved by the state prevention team, the Alliance will be eligible to receive federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funds to implement the approved strategies.  The task force hopes to complete the planning process and be ready to implement strategies by this fall. The Task Force is made up of diverse community members including, but not limited to: law enforcement, schools, health care providers, service organizations and agencies, faith based members, parents, and anyone who shares in the concern and is willing to be a part of the solution.  The strategic prevention framework is a community based comprehensive approach. The problems are in the community but so are the solutions. Together our community can make a positive difference for a healthy and safe environment  for all youth and their families.

In the CTC student surveys taken every year by 6th, gth, 10th and 12th graders, 13% of Kansas 8th graders and 40% of 12th graders say alcohol is easy to get. 43% of Kansas youth say they drank at home and 61% report they drank at a friend's home. Sometimes the parents provided it. When teens drink,it is often done to get drunk. Binge drinking is a big concern that increases the risks that youth can encounter.

Youth who drink alcohol before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to have alcohol related problems when they are adults. Alcohol can alter the development of the brain, potentially affecting both brain structure and function.  The human brain is not fully formed at puberty as earlier believed, but continues important  maturity and growth until about age 24.  When youth drink they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including drinking and driving, binge drinking, aggressive and violent behaviors and sexual activity. In 2012, 67 fatal crashes in Kansas involved drivers between the ages of 15 and 20, with one out of four being cited as alcohol-impaired.   Tragic health, injury, social and economic problems can result from the use of alcohol by youth. Underage drinking is the cause of many serious problems, including alcohol poisoning, legal consequences, crashes, poor academics, homicide, suicide, traumatic injury, violent and property crimes, high risk sex, fetal alcohol syndrome, and dependency. In 2010 underage drinking cost the citizens of Kansas over $670 Million!

If you would like more information please contact Deanne Armstrong @ or call 785-876-6028. Task force members would appreciate your input and assistance in developing this strategic plan for Jefferson County. Everyone is welcome to attend the monthly meetings which are the first Thursday of each month at 1:00 p.m. at the Jefferson County Health Department.

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