Parents Who Host Campaign encourages talk of underage drinking t - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Parents Who Host Campaign encourages talk about underage drinking to young children

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - A new campaign is encouraging local parents to talk to their children about underage drinking and its consequences. And, they're targeting children as young as third graders!

A county-wide effort is in force to prevent what the campaign calls, "…an unhealthy, unsafe, and illegal behavior."

Jessica Shafer, a parent from Eau Claire, said, "I just think it's extremely important for parents to start having these conversations with their kids."

The topic of underage drinking is getting another round of lecture.

Shafter said, "These days it's introduced to them much earlier and earlier."

Kristin Hildebrand, an underage drinking prevention coordinator for the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, said, "You know I'd really prefer you not drink until you're 21."

For the first time, "Parents Who Host, Lose the Most" is encouraging parents to talk with their children as early as third grade about underage drinking. Hildebrand said, "In Eau Claire County, we know the average age of first use of alcohol is 13, and we want to make sure we have those conversations well before when a kid might be tempted and might try alcohol."

Kathryn Bushman, a parent from Eau Claire, said, "We already talked to her a little bit about it as much as she can understand. She's only 3.  But I think that the younger you can start enforcing good habits for kids the better success you'll have when they're teenagers."

"Start Talking, the sooner the better" is the campaign's theme this year. Hildebrand said, "It's important this conversation starts way before they're even thinking about it."

Shafter said, "They're starting so young now days". Hildebrand said, "Kids who drink before they're 13, they have a 45 percent chance of developing alcohol dependence by the time they are an adult. If kids will wait until they're 21 to drink, then there is only a 7-percent chance."

Underage drinking can impact one's future behavior. Hildebrand said, "It's not just about the drinking. When kids drink before the age of 15, 67-perecnt of those kids will go on and use other drugs."

Hildebrand said efforts to get parents to talk to young children about the dangers of alcohol will run through June.

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