The below is user generated content from the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Responsible Action: A Drug and Alcohol Resource (RADAR) organization.
This spring is focusing its public awareness efforts on the problem of underage drinking. Timed to coincide with the onset of spring fever and prom season, the new campaign sponsored will address parents and empower them to take a stand against alcohol use by teens. The campaign was developed in response to data from recent student surveys, parent feedback at several RADAR events and input from student groups, PTAs, social workers, educators and medical experts.
The campaign, titled “Be a Parent, Not a Friend,” will establish itself through a variety of media—from mailers sent home to parents, to billboards at the train station, to TV spots shown on and local cinema screens. Janet Buchbinder, president of the RADAR coalition, explains the broad approach: “The more people we reach, the more people we empower to make a difference. We want to get the community talking.”
The awareness campaign will officially kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17th , when parenting and prevention expert Mike Nerney will address the community at the Hommocks Auditorium. He will talk about why it is so important to make sure our teens don’t drink, and how we can parent them more effectively to that end. According to Buchbinder, who has heard Nerney speak several times, “Parents will walk away with new conviction about protecting their teens from alcohol, as well as specific and realistic ideas for how to be successful.“ Nerney is widely celebrated as a not-to-be-missed speaker who empowers and engages his audience as he educates.
According to Buchbinder, the “Be a Parent” theme was developed to reassure parents that the role they play in the health, safety and development of their teenage children is critical. “We parents tend to think that peers are the primary influence on the choices our teens make,” says Buchbinder. “But all the research shows that parents are the most influential factor in a teenager’s life."
Helene Fremder, a (MHS) social worker and prevention specialist, agrees: “Teens tell us again and again that they trust their parents more than anyone, and that they are counting on their parents to guide them right.”
The new campaign will provide helpful tips for how to be an effective parent in the face of a strong teenage drinking culture. It will also clarify some of the misconceptions about underage drinking and educate parents about the very real risks.
“People don’t realize how far science has come in understanding the dangers of alcohol to young people,” explains Dr. Ann Engelland, school district physician and RADAR advisor. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for instance, the impact on brain development is such that kids who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to abuse alcohol later in life than those who start drinking at or after age 21.
“Protecting teens from alcohol is very important for their long-term health, safety and potential," said Engelland.
One pervasive myth the campaign will address is that ”everybody does it.” Recent surveys by RADAR show that while there are plenty of kids who are drinking in Larchmont and Mamaroneck, there are also many who aren’t. There is a large club at MHS called “Above the Influence,” sponsored by RADAR and comprised of students who choose not to get involved with drugs or alcohol. Many of these students have contributed to the “Be a Parent” campaign by creating a TV spot specifically aimed at parents. Fremder, who serves as advisor to the club, said the students provide very compelling parenting tips from the vantage point of teens. “They go beyond the experts to tell us in their own voices what really works.” The club is collaborating with a professional filmmaker on the commercial, which will air at local movie theatres during May and June.
For ongoing support to parents, RADAR maintains a comprehensive website—www.lmradar.org—with helpful information, advice, and links to some of the best prevention resources in the country.
“We all get excited about the idea of one day becoming friends with our grown children,” explains Buchbinder. “But we need to embrace our parenting roles just a little longer—and RADAR wants to help.”
The RADAR coalition is made up of local entities including the Mamaroneck School District, three police departments, the , the , the , the Rye YMCA the , healthcare professionals, local businesses, faith organizations, elected leaders, PTAs and student groups.
For more information on RADAR please contact Janet Buchbinder at: firstname.lastname@example.org.