Sandy City residents may notice a series of ParentsEmpowered videos featuring Sandy City Firefighters and ParentsEmpowered graphics adorning the sides of Sandy City Fire Department vehicles starting on the Fourth of July weekend.
The department and ParentsEmpowered entered the third phase of a campaign partnership in Sandy to “empower” parents to safeguard their children against the effects of underaged drinking on June 30. Phases one and two included partnership between law enforcement and Waste Management to share reminders with parents about the impact of adolescent and teen drinking.
Beginning the 30th, ParentsEmpowered released a series of video featuring Sandy firefighters offering their advice and facts on how to help prevent teen drinking and how to approach the subject to begin with. Also, several Sandy fire vehicles will feature advertising graphic from ParentsEmpowered.
Fire Chief Bruce Cline said he has witnessed calls for service involving alcohol and 6th grade youth.
“The number show if (adolescents) drink that early in life, their likelihood of becoming alcoholics is astounding,” Cline said. “When you drink it makes you do some stupid things as a kid.”
Firefighter Emma Weatherhead was featured in one of the videos. She is also the mother of a 13- and 15-year-old.
She said increasing pressure to drink underage appears to be coming from from people around them—friends and classmates to name a few—and various cultural pressures, calling for a greater need for parents to know who kids associate with and what they do when they are not home.
Cline also advised that the beginning of protecting children form underaged drinking starts in family discussion settings.
“(Research) also shows that if a family eats together and talks about the issue that are at hand—alcohol, drugs, the economy, politics—that they understand and wills stay out of trouble,” Cline said.
Cline also claimed that people who hold off drinking until 21 have a much lower likelihood of abusing alcohol later in life, if at all.
“Simply put, underage drinking can hinder how a teen’s brain develops, damaging the impulse control/good judgment area of the brain, and harming the learning/memory parts of the brain,” ParentsEmpowered.org claims.
Weatherhead also said that holding off on drinking until the legal age of 21 allows for further brain development to finalize and allow for greater life experience, which would allow for more thoughtful decision making.
ParentsEmpowered.org representative Mark Brown said it is critical that its understood that underage drinking has decreased in the state, but wants to push until there is a culture of zero-tolerance for underaged drinking.
“When you give or allow access to alcohol to a person underage you are starting, in effect, a fire in their brain that they may not and many cannot control,” Brown said.
Brown claimed that about 6,000 Utah youth drink regularly and get alcohol from or with permission from their parents or other trusted adults. He asked that those who do so to reconsider their action because of the increase likelihood of addiction for those youth later in life.
The videos and graphics released by ParentsEmpowered will run for the next six months.
“We hope that this will help parents break the ice and have those conversations with their children,” Weatherhead said.
Brown and Cline both compared parental standards about underaged drinking is like fire prevention, claiming it is easier and better to prevent incidents rather than facing tragedy associated with both.
ParentsEmpowered is an initiative funded by the Utah State Legislature and administered by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control since its 2006 founding.
Article published by Sandy Journal.