Stopping Underage Drinking

New PSAs Urge Parents to Talk to Their Kids About Dangers of Alcohol

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Targeting underage drinking, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration and the Ad Council today launched a PSA effort to encourage parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drinking.

According to a new study by SAMHSA, 27.6 percent of youth ages 12 to 20 drank alcohol in the past month, with the rate as high as 40 percent in some states, including North Dakota and Vermont. At the same time, 8.6 percent of past-month drinkers in this age group bought their own alcohol the last time they drank.

The new campaign, created by Deutsch Inc., New York, uses TV, radio, print and online to target parents of children ages 11 to 15, encouraging them to talk to their children before the kids start drinking. Culturally relevant PSAs targeting the Hispanic, Chinese and Native American communities will also be available.

The effort is timed to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Month in April and as part of the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. According to SAMHSA, alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death in the 12-to-20-year-old age category: unintentional injury, homicide and suicide.

The campaign includes online resources to help parents, including an action plan to help them start a conversation. In addition, a social media program is being introduced in cooperation with Nickelodeon's Parents Connect.

"The statistics show that in large and growing numbers, our underage kids—yours and mine, real kids in the real world—are drinking," said Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch, New York, and an Ad Council Campaign Review Committee member, in announcing the effort. "Our mission is to get parents to consider that it could be their kid, and encourage open, ongoing dialogues. We are proud to be part of this important messaging to help raise awareness and influence behavior to help prevent underage drinking."