Thursday, February 23, 2017

Talk to Your Teen about Alcohol

Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, to be involved in alcohol related traffic crashes, and to have serious school related problems.  You have more influence on your child’s values and decisions about drinking before they begin to use alcohol.  Parents can have a major impact on their children’s drinking, especially during the preteen and early teen years. 

If you keep alcohol in your home, keep track of it. Make sure your child knows that they are not allowed to have unchaperoned parties/gatherings at home, but encourage them to have friends over when you are home!  The more entertaining your child does in your home, the more you will know about your child’s friends and activities.

Getting to know other parents and guardians can help you keep closer tabs on your child.   This will make it is easier for you to call another parent who is having a party to be sure that a responsible adult will be present and that alcohol will not be available.  Be aware of your teen’s plans and whereabouts and make sure they know it is because you care about them not because you do not trust them. 

When parents establish clear “no alcohol” rules, their children are less likely to begin drinking.  Some possible family rules are:
Ø  Kids will not drink alcohol until they are 21
Ø  Older siblings will not encourage younger ones to drink and will not give them alcohol.
Ø  Kids will not stay at teen parties where alcohol is served
Ø  Kids will not ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking

Once the rules are clear, appropriate consequences will need to be put in place and used.  Make sure the rules are ones you will enforce and that do not keep your child from communicating with you.  A possible consequence might be temporary restrictions on your child’s socializing. 

Parents and guardians are important role models for children.  Even if you use alcohol, there may be ways to lessen the likelihood that your child will drink:
Ø  Use alcohol moderately
Ø  Don’t communicate to your child that alcohol is a good way to handle problems
Ø  Let your child see that you have other, healthier ways to cope with stress
Ø  Don’t tell kids stories about your own drinking in a way that says alcohol use is funny or glamorous
Ø  Never drink and drive or ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking
Ø  When you entertain other adults, make available alcohol free beverages and plenty of food.  If anyone drinks too much at your party, make arrangements for them to get home safely.

Your attitudes and behavior toward teen drinking also influence your child.  Avoid jokes about underage drinking.  Never serve alcohol to underage drinkers.  Remember it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors who are not family members. 

If your child’s friends use alcohol, your child is more likely to drink too.  So, encourage your child to develop friendships with kids who do not drink and are healthy influences on your child.  Get to know your child’s friends and encourage your child to invite them to family get-togethers, outings and spend time with them in other ways.  Finally talk with your child about the qualities in a friend that really count, such as trustworthiness and kindness, rather than popularity or a cool style.  When you disapprove of a friend it is best to point out your reservations in a caring, supportive way and limiting time with the friend with family rules, such as how after school time can be spent or how late your child can stay out in the evening.

One reason kids drink is to beat boredom.  So, encourage your child to participate in supervised activities that are challenging and fun.  According to a recent survey of preteens the availability of enjoyable, alcohol free activities is a big reason for deciding not to use alcohol.  If the community does not offer these types of activities, consider getting together with other parents and young teens to help create some. 

A way for you to discourage alcohol use by teens in your family and in Van Buren County is to join the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.  By working with the coalition, which has members from the school and other areas of the community, you can help to develop policies to reduce alcohol availability to teens.  For more information contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or or visit us on the web at

Thursday, February 16, 2017


The Chance That Children Will Use Alcohol Increases as They Get Older. 
About 10 percent of 12-year-olds say they have tried alcohol, but by age 15, that number jumps to 50 percent. The sooner you talk to your children about alcohol, the greater chance you have of influencing their decisions about drinking.[i]

Parents Play a Critical Role in Children’s Decisions to Experiment with Alcohol. 
Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people’s decisions about alcohol consumption,[ii]  especially when parents create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decisions.[iii] In fact, around 80 percent of children feel that parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.[iv],[v]

The Conversation Is Often More Effective Before Children Start Drinking. 
If you talk to your kids directly and honestly, they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol use.

Some Children May Try Alcohol as Early as 9 Years Old. 
Most 6-year-olds know that alcohol is only for adults. Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to view alcohol more positively. Many children begin to think underage drinking is OK. Some even start to experiment. It is never too early to talk to your children about alcohol.[vi]

If You Do Not Talk About It, You Are Still Saying Something. 
What you say to your children about alcohol is up to you. But remember, parents who do not discourage underage drinking may have an indirect influence on their children’s alcohol use.[vii]

It is important to:[viii]
• Talk early and often, in developmentally appropriate ways, with children and teens about your concerns—and theirs—regarding alcohol. Adolescents who know their parents’ opinions about youth drinking are more likely to fall in line with their expectations.
• Establish policies early on, and be consistent in setting expectations and enforcing rules. Adolescents do feel that parents should have a say in decisions about drinking, and they maintain this deference to parental authority as long as they perceive the message to be legitimate; consistency is central to legitimacy.
• Work with other parents to monitor where kids are gathering and what they are doing. Being involved in the lives of adolescents is key to keeping them safe.
• Work in and with the community to promote dialogue about underage drinking and the creation and implementation of action steps to address it.
• Be aware of your State’s laws about providing alcohol to your own children.
• Never provide alcohol to someone else’s child.

To help parents in preventing and reducing adolescent alcohol and drug use, The Partnership at provides information and tools through its website, its community education programs, and its public service messages.  Other web resources:, Great Parent Talk Kit,,  Parents, family, and friends of kids please make sure to check out these sites or contact the SAFE Coalition for more information on issues that kids are facing today.  Van Buren County SAFE Coalition: 319-293-6412, or check us out online at and on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

[i] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide to Action for Educators. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2007.
[ii] Nash, S.G., McQueen, A., and Bray, J.H. (2005). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Family environment, peer influence, and parental expectations. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37(1), 19–28.
[iii] Barnes, G.M., Reifman, A.S., Farrell, M.P., and Dintcheff, B.A. (2000). The effects of parenting on the development of adolescent alcohol misuse: A six-wave latent growth model. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(1), 175–186.
[iv] Jackson, C. (2002). Perceived legitimacy of parental authority and tobacco and alcohol use during early adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health 31(5), 425–432.
[v] Nash, S.G., McQueen, A., and Bray, J.H. (2005). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Family environment, peer influence, and parental expectations. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37(1), 19–28.
[vi] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide to Action for Educators. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2007.
[vii] Sieving, R.E., Maruyama, G., Williams, C.L., and Perry, C.L. (2000). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Potential mechanisms of parent influence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 10(4), 489–514.
[viii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Drop the Dip & Drop Your Risk

When we think about February, we think of a few things. First, it’s winter, which means many of us are spending more time inside with the people close to us. Second, there’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you are single, in a relationship, or married, this time of year just gets us thinking about relationships and love. The third thing? Keep reading and you’ll catch on.

There’s no doubt that romance is in the air this time of year, so don’t let dip get in the way of your relationship. The Great American Spit Out, on February 23, 2017 gives you the opportunity to quit with no pressure and likely only positive feedback and support from your significant other.

Smokeless tobacco isn’t just harming your look. When you drop the dip, you will also:
*        Drop the risk for developing cancer of the cheek, gums, and inner surface of the lips
*        Drop those leathery white patches and red sores in your mouth
*        Drop the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and heart attacks
*        Drop the risk for high cholesterol
*        Drop the high pulse rate and high blood pressure
*        Drop the bad breath and possibility of tooth loss

Dropping the dip is a good choice for your health and your relationships. Unlike your girlfriend, we won’t nag you about it. If you are ready to quit, we are here to help. Check out for free tips and resources to help you get one-step closer to that perfect selfie. Because let’s face it, gum cancer, white patches, and tooth loss, can seriously mess with your Instagram game.

Drop the dip and set your quit date for February 23 – the Great American Spit Out.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Through With Chew Week Gets Boost from Local Health Officials

Nationally dentists, otolaryngologists—physicians concerned with the ears, nose, and throat—have proclaimed the week of February 19-25, 2017, as "Through with Chew Week" in an effort to call attention to the use of smokeless tobacco.

In 2014, more than 5 of every 100 high school students (5.5%) in the United States used smokeless tobacco. Locally, in 2014 on the Iowa Youth Survey 15% or 11th grade students reported having used smokeless tobacco at least once in the past 30 days.  The public awareness campaign is designed to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people. 

Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes, as some young people believe, and it is even more habit forming because it contains a higher concentration of nicotine than cigarettes.  Smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer, especially in the cheeks, gums, and throat. In addition, smokeless tobacco is addicting.  The use of smokeless tobacco can also lead to other oral problems, such as mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay, bad breath, and permanent discoloration of teeth.

Through With Chew Week is sponsored by the Van Buren County Hospital and the Van Buren County Warriors Ignite. For more information or for materials, please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or