Friday, March 16, 2018

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 your children. 

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 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or or visit us on the web at

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Youth attend Day on the Hill

Representative Phil Miller, Sydney Goemaat, Lacey Smith,
Kris Rankin, Shaley Finley, and Lacey Smith

On Wednesday, February 21, 2018 four Van Buren Youth Leadership Council (YLC) members attended Day on the Hill in Des Moines. This event is held for students to take part in advocacy at the capitol. The students are given the opportunity to speak to elected officials about changes they want to see in our state as well as be a part of a press conference to advocate for change.

Students attending from Van Buren County included; Lacey Smith, Rose Rankin, Shaley Finley and Sydney Goemaat. The students provided Representative Phil Miller with information on underage drinking and marijuana use in Van Buren County. They stressed to him the importance of youth access to alcohol and marijuana and ways in which the access can be reduced.

The students were also a part of substance abuse prevention press conference that the Alliance of Coalitions 4 Change sponsored. The press conference included a variety of speakers from youth to prevention specialists to law enforcement all advocating for changes that will support reducing youth access to alcohol and marijuana.

The students learned a great deal about the legislative process and were able to use their public speaking skills as a part of this event. Students are selected to attend this event based on their involvement in the YLC organization.

For more information on this event or any Youth Leadership Council activities please feel free to contact the SAFE Coalition office at 319-293-3334 ext. 107 or 

Kick Butts Day Combats Youth Tobacco Use

More than 400,000 people in the United States will die this year from a tobacco-related disease.  On March 21, Kick Butts Day—the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council is taking a stand to stop youth from getting hooked on deadly tobacco products.

We know that 90% of smokers start using tobacco regularly by the time they are 18. Isn’t this astonishing? 

So in order to give kids a fighting chance, we plan to join thousands of students across the country who are taking part in Kick Butts Day, a nationwide initiative sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that makes students leaders in the effort to stop youth tobacco use. As part of the Kick Butts Day celebration, YLC Members will display posters in the Van Buren Community Jr/Sr High School and do Peer Teaching at the Harmony and Van Buren Community Elementary Schools on the dangers of tobacco use.

There are many effective ways state and local officials can protect young people from tobacco.
They can use funds from the states’ 1998 legal settlement with the tobacco companies to pay for tobacco prevention programs; they can increase tobacco taxes; and they can pass smoke free laws to protect us from secondhand smoke. Consider these facts: Each day, more than 1,000 kids become new regular smokers; roughly one-third of them will die prematurely from a tobacco-related disease.

Today’s youth are not just part of the problem; they’re part of the solution. And the students from Van Buren County want tobacco companies to know that on Kick Butts Day and every day throughout the year, we’re going to fight them every step of the way!
For more information on YLC and Kick Butts Day please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or or check out the website at or blog at

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This St. Paddy’s Day, Don’t Rely on the Luck o’ the Irish: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular holidays in the United States. With a plethora of Irish immigrants—and many, many more St. Paddy’s Day well-wishers, the holiday is heavily celebrated by most Americans with friendly pinches, bangers n’ mash, and green beer galore. Sadly, all this merry-making can lead to dangerous driving conditions as party-goers head home. In 2016 alone, 60 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Paddy’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18). The selfish act of drinking and driving can rip people from their friends and loved ones forever. For this reason, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition are working to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving. Even one drink can be one too many. If you’re heading out for the Irish festivities, plan ahead and remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
Tragically, March 17 has become a dangerous holiday on our nation’s roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period, almost two-thirds (39%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 didn’t fare much better. Between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly three-fourths (69%) of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. In fact, from 2012 to 2016, almost two-fifths (38%) of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) well above the .08 limit, with 269 drunk-driving fatalities total. Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

We want our community members to plan ahead when they are celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day. Whether you are driving yourself or your friends, make sure you stay sober or plan for a sober ride home. Remember: It’s not just about you. There are other people on the roads who want to get where they are going safely. Don’t let alcohol cause you to be a risk to yourself and others on the road. Drinking and driving is an act of selfishness. Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you feel a buzz, you are in no shape to drive.

Please make a plan before you head out for St. Patrick’s Day parties. Consider being the sober designated driver for your friends. If you are planning to drink, plan for a safe ride home. There are too many safe alternatives to choose otherwise. Think before you act.
We recommend the following safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
First: Always remember to plan ahead. You know whether you’ll attend a party. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously—your friends could be relying on you.
Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver to get home safely.
Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app available on Google Play for Android devices: (, and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices: ( SaferRide allows users to call a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so they can be picked up.
If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact 911.
Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.

For more information about the Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving campaign, visit

Friday, February 23, 2018

Want to make a difference in Van Buren County?

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is continually looking for community members who are interested in making Van Buren County a SAFE place to live.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition came together originally in 1993, after the floods, as a way to get community members together to work on a specific issue.  This group was organized to assist with flood efforts and clean-up after the flood.  The group met sporadically over the next few years.  It was not until December of 2002 that the group became organized.  There were 11 members at the first organized meeting, and the group has now grown to over 60 members. 

The coalition is currently working on strategies to address tobacco prevention, Rx and OTC medication abuse, underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County with Community Partnership Funds, Community Grants, and the Iowa Partnership for Success Funds. This work requires input from all areas of the community. If you are a parent, business owner, concerned citizen, faith based representative, young adult, youth worker, youth, or anyone else who wants to make a difference, the coalition needs you. Your input is valuable and we want to hear from you.

If you are interested in finding out more about the coalition or think that you would like to get involved the coalition would love to have you join! Coalition meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 9:00 am at the VBCH Community Services Center Conference Room in Keosauqua. There is a conference line if you cannot be there in person, but what like to call in and participate in the meeting. 

Next Meeting:
March 20, 2018
9:00 am
VBCH Community Services Center Conference Room

If you are interested in joining but not able to attend or call in to the meeting, please contact us at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or via email at and you can be added to our member list.

Check us out on the web for more information: or on the blog at - or on Facebook at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition. 


RESILIENCE: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope explores the science behind Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). It not only explains how exposure to trauma affects a child’s brain, but also demonstrates how this toxic stress increases children’s overall risk of developing diseases, engaging in risky behavior, facing jail time, and experiencing early death.

Throughout the film, the audience sees the movement that has begun within various sectors to treat toxic stress as a public health crisis, which has led to greater efforts in addressing and combating its adverse effects.
Date: March 7, 2018
Time: 6pm-7:30pm
Location: Roberts Memorial Center, Keosauqua, IA
Hosted by: Children’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Collaborative
Register/Contact: Julie Dalrymple,
Questions? Contact:

Thursday, February 15, 2018


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.[1]

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,[2]  especially when parents create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decisions.[3] In fact, around 80 percent of children feel that parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.[4],[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

It is important to:[8]
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: 319-293-3334 ext. 1017, or check us out online at and on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition. 

[1] 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.
[2] 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.
[3] 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.
[4] Jackson, C. (2002). Perceived legitimacy of parental authority and tobacco and alcohol use during early adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health 31(5), 425–432.
[5] 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.
[6] 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.
[7] 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.
[8] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007