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Parents urged to curb underage drinking

Staff writer

Hillsboro parents were given sobering information about underage drinking and the effect they have on their children’s lives.

Communities in Schools director Linda Ogden gave a presentation Thursday to Hillsboro students and parents about the dangers of underage drinking.

Ogden took a different tact in Hillsboro’s pre-prom drinking presentation than the Marion High School DUI simulation last week. While Marion tailored its demonstration for a student audience, Ogden focused on parent with her presentation.

She presented information gathered from surveys given to Marion County sixth-graders, eighth-graders, 10th-graders, and 12th-graders in 2009.

Most Marion County youth say they gave money to someone else to buy alcohol for them, and most say they drank at a friend’s home.

The presentation also showed parents the influence they have on their teenagers regarding drugs and alcohol. Of the Marion County students surveyed, 57 percent said they witnessed at least one adult drunk or high; 22.4 percent said they witnessed five or more adults in an inebriated state.

The main message that Ogden wanted to convey was, “(I want parents) to really have a relationship with their kids. It has to start early,” she said. “Just work on that relationship and be a good influence because parents have the most influence on kids whether people realize it or not.”

Ogden illustrated her points with information from a slew of experts. Kansas’ social Hosting Law was highlighted in the presentation — adults hosting a party face a minimum fine of $1,000. Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning, Marion Police Chief Josh Whitwell, and Marion County Sheriff Robert Craft answered questions after the presentation.

Ogden used a presentation prepared by Ken Winters, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota, that talked about the brain of a teenager. Research by Winters concluded that the human brain is not fully developed until age 25. Because the brain is still developing, persistent short-term memory loss could be an effect of binge drinking during teenage years.

The research also showed a link between age and addiction: the earlier people drink or do drugs the more likely they are to become chemically dependent.

Lacy Piley, a 21-year-old from Lyon County, said she started drinking and doing drugs at an early age. She started smoking marijuana at 8 years old and from there she moved onto harder drugs, spiraling into drug addiction.

Prairie View Inc. representative Jami Lawless and Theresa Walters of the Flint Hills Regional Prevention Center offered information about the physical and psychological effects of underage drinking and talked about treatments their organizations offer for alcohol and drug dependency.

The onus was placed on parents to curb underage drinking with the acronym PARENT.

“Promote activities that capitalize on the strengths of the developing brain; Assist your child with challenges that require planning; Reinforce advice seeking from you and other adults; Educate about risk taking and negative consequences; Never underestimate drug effects on developing brain; and Tolerate ‘oops’ behaviors common during the teens.”

Marion County statistics

Cigarette Smoking at least once in past month.

Kansas Rate=10 percent

County rate=16.5 percent

Binge Drinking — five or more drinks in a row at least once.

Kansas=14.7

County= 13.5

Do your parents talk to you about the dangers of alcohol use. Percent saying yes.

Kansas=46.9

County=43.8

Have drank alcohol at least once in past month.

Kansas=26.9

County=23

Last modified April 21, 2010

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