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State, county emphasize underage drinking campaign
BY CHANEL DAVIS
Members from the state Alcoholic
Beverage Commission (ABC), Highway
Patrol, Forsyth County Judicial and
District Attorney's office, and others dis
cussed the statewide initiative to reduce
underage drinking amid graduation and
prom season at the Talk It Out panel dis
cussion on Tuesday, April 28, at the
Forsyth County Cooperative Extension
N.C. ABC Commission and the
Forsyth County District Attorney's Office
announced their new Talk It Out program
for those charged with*underage drinking
on Dec. 18.
Talk It Out also includes education and
awareness components aimed at the gener
al teen population, funded by the ABC
Commission, that includes commercials
and a website, talkitoutnc.org.
"Forsyth County 4-H is committed to
equipping youth with the critical tools and
resources to be conscious participants in
making good choices regarding underage
drinking and a healthy lifestyle," said
Shanika Gray, Forsyth County 4-H Youth
Development Extension agent. "We are
not just shining a light on the issue of
underage drinking; we are seeking solu
tions through collaborative partnerships.
Starting the conversation within families is
imperative as we move into the season of
prom, graduation and senior beach trips.
We want our youth aware of the legal
implications, as well as health conse
quences associated with underage drinking
The panel was made up of Forsyth
County District Attorney James R. O'Neil;
Hope Walker from the N.C. ABC
Commission; District Court Judge Denise
Hartsfield from Reclaiming Futures
Juvenile Drug Court; Dr. Sam Gray, vice
president of program development at
Insight Human Services; and Trooper S.B.
Marshall from the state Highway Patrol.
"We have an underage drinking prob
lem in the state of North Carolina and the
Talk it Out campaign is doing something
about it," Walker said. "Kids want to talk
about it and they don't just want their par
ents or guardians to say no. They want to
understand why, the consequences and just
want to talk about it. We are providing the
resources and the tools on our website for
the parents, teacher, community leader or
whomever so they can start these conver
sations with these kids."
In 2014, Gov. Pat McCrory issued an
executive order asking the ABC
Commission to address the issue of under
age drinking in North Carolina. An exten
sive, statewide quantitative and qualitative
research effort was conducted by inter
viewing middle- and high-school-aged
children and their parents.
The study showed that 87 percent of
the children say underage drinking is a
problem while only 37 percent of parents
sst^ it's a big problem. The majority of par
ents don't feel confident enough to talk
with their own children about underage
drinking while the students would like to
talk with them but are afraid to initiate the
conversation, according to the study.
Next, a multimedia campaign was
launched through television, radio, bill
boards and social media to make parents
aware of the problem and urged them to
talk to their children, a message that Gray
"What we encourage our families and
children to do is to spend a lot of time with
your children, pay attention to what's
going on in their lives, have conversations
with them about drinking, and don't let it
go without talking about it," he said.
"On the treatment side, we focus on
having them make healthy, helpful deci
sions during a time when they have a hard
time making decisions."
Winston-Salem Police Chief Barry
Rountree said he feels the campaign is a
good thing and the police department is
already a partner, especially during prom
"It's very important for us to be
involved as law enforcement officials
because we see the effects and the after
effects of what underage drinking can do
to young people in our community," he
"We always do different campaigns
across the city. It is prom season. It's also
graduation season, so we will be out with
our educational programs and stepping up
'Talk It Out Part II: The Keys of Life"
will be Wednesday, May 27, from 9 a.m. to
noon at North Forsyth High School, 5705
Shattalon Drive. For more information on
the event, call 336-703-2856.
If you want to become part of the Talk
It Out initiative, contact coalitions@talk
Underage drinking by the numbers
*87 percent of NC middle/high school
aged children say underage drinking is a
*58 percent of kids say it's a big prob
?Only 37 percent of parents say under
age drinking is a big problem
?Two people a week lose their lives to
*62 percent of parents believe they are
not fully prepared with
information/resources to properly address
*13.9 years old is the average age for
*91 percent of middle school students
feel that parents talking with them more
would stop underage drinking
Source: N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Commission study
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