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Mercer Island Rolls Out New Youth Anti- Alcohol and Drug Campaign

Overall, underage drinking declined in 2010, according to the bi-annual Healthy Youth Survey.

The city-sponsored Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition (CTC) is adopting a state-wide initiative calling on parents to "draw the line" between youth and alcohol at home, according to a press release.

As a precursor to a suggested city ordinance meant to discourage underage drinking in private homes on Mercer Island, the CTC is encouraging parents to clearly communicate rules to their children about drugs and alcohol and support a zero tolerance policy in their household. According to the press release, the majority of underage drinking on Mercer Island occurs at house parties.

"What parents may not realize is that children say that parental disapproval of underage drinking is the key reason they have chosen not to drink," says Charles Curie, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Administrator, United States Department of Health and Human Services.

In efforts to reduce underage drinking, CTC has worked since 2005 to address the areas of social norms, youth access to alcohol, and enforcement of rules and laws which together impact the environment in which youth use alcohol.

Overall, the effort seems to be working, according to a bi-annual survey given to all 8th, 10th and 12th graders called the "Healthy Youth Survey". In 2010, rates of alcohol use among Mercer Island High School students decreased from those five years prior to levels close to the state average, according to statistics in the 2010 Healthy Youth Survey. However, 8th grade students reported an increase over the same period of the number of students who tried alcohol for the first time.

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Administrative Manager Derek Franklin said a key component of shaping student attitudes on alcohol and drug use starts in their homes. Parents are already doing a good job, according to the survey, but more could be done.

"The numbers of students reporting parent disapproval of drinking are going in the right direction," he said. "The 12th grade is still above the state average, but now we're only 4-5 percent above it, rather than 15 percent."

The new "draw the line" campaign also borrows from CTC's ongoing "MOST Of Us" campaign which features posters around the Island's schools re-enforcing the healthy behaviors already a majority among Island youth and parents.

For more information click here for the state-wide Let's Draw the Line campaign. For information about local efforts contact CTC Project Coordinator, Sharon Broz at 206.275.7743 or sharon.broz@mercergov.org or the CTC website at www.mercerisland-ctc.com. CTC and YFS staff is available to any parent seeking information about prevention practices or support at 206-275-7611.

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