TINLEY PARK, IL, November 17, 2017 — “Know the NO” is the theme of an ambitious year-long campaign aimed at students and parents in the Tinley Park community to reduce the incidence of underage drinking. The campaign, which launched in October, has been created by Leaders Opposed to Underage Drinking (L.O.U.D.), a collaboration of community and educational leaders in these communities south of Chicago. L.O.U.D. is the brainchild of Bremen Youth Services, a social services agency that serves young people and families in the Bremen Township area.
The theme emphasizes that saying “no” to alcohol is the norm in these communities, not the exception. The campaign is aimed at both students and parents and dispels two myths: first, that most teens use alcohol and second, parents often facilitate it because they acquiesce to their teens' claim that “everyone is doing it.”
“Fortunately, the facts don't bear out that teenage drinking is rampant or that parents allow it to happen,” said Donald J. Sebek, Executive Director of Bremen Youth Services. “Most teens in our area do not use alcohol; but any underage drinking is a potential problem and we want to make teens more comfortable saying “no” to alcohol and empower parents to guide their children away from it.”
Last year, Tinley Park high school students participated in the 2016 Illinois Youth Survey conducted by the Center for Prevention Research. The survey found that seven out of ten students say “no” to alcohol, despite the myth that underage drinking is common. Although uncommon, there are situations where the problem can be exacerbated by parents who believe that, if their teens are going to drink alcohol anyway, they might as well do it in a safer place where there is some control. This leads parents to acquiesce, even letting teens bring alcohol to parties in their home.
L.O.U.D.'s “Know the No” program is two-pronged, with some activities focused on teens and others focused on parents. Tinley Park High School is the first participating school and the organizers hope to expand the campaign to other schools in the area and beyond in the near future.
Bremen Youth Services and L.O.U.D. have produced a series of communications pieces–display ads, banners, flyers and posters–which introduce the program and communicate key messages throughout the duration of the program. An online newsroom/website www.newsline360.com/LOUD is where campaign news and key messaging will be frequently posted. Interested people can subscribe to or “follow” the newsroom to receive the latest information as soon as it is posted.
Among the key messages the program hopes to communicate, based on results of the Illinois Youth Survey, are:
– Did you know… 7 out of 10 high school teens in your area say NO to alcohol? And if you don't “NO”, now you KNOW.
– Only 8% of high school teens in your area report that you will be seen as “cool” if you drink alcohol regularly.
The posters also include some information about adolescent substance and alcohol abuse based on findings of the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Discussing the consequences of being “drunk,” they point out that intoxicated people have a harder time making good decisions, are less aware that their behavior may be inappropriate or risky and are less likely to recognize potential danger in the short term. Over the long term, teen alcohol use can interfere with normal brain development and can increase the chance that the teens will develop an alcohol use disorder later in life.
L.O.U.D. clearly understands that parents have a key role to play in preventing underage drinking and that is why the Know the NO program includes activities geared toward parents. According to program flyers, research shows that parents strongly influence whether or not teens choose to drink alcohol–80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink (source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)).
An important goal is to dispel the myth that most area parents allow their teens to drink. The Illinois Youth Survey found that 62% of teens who participated in the survey reported that their parents will not provide them with alcohol.
Program communications to parents will include postcard mailers to all parents in the participating schools, internet and print ads, posters and flyers. There also will be in-school parent seminars. The key message is: “Empower Your Child: Thank You for Not Providing.”
Among the tips offered to parents are:
1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking–send a clear and strong message
2. Show you care about your child's happiness and well-being–the conversation will go much better if you're working with, not against, your child
3. Show you're a good source of information about alcohol–you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information, you don't want your child to learn about alcohol from their friends, the internet or the media
4. Show you're paying attention and you'll notice if your child drinks–there are many ways to do this without prying.
5. Build your child's skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking–to prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you'll need to build skills and practice them.
“We see the value in being up front with teens about alcohol use, and discussing it openly,” said Sebek. “Most teens will listen to grownups' warnings about underage drinking, but they also will pay attention to what their peers say. That's why the “Know the No” program is about getting correct, no-nonsense information into the hands of the students.”
For more information about the “Know the NO” program, please visit the program website at www.newsline360.com/LOUD. Information about Bremen Youth Services can be found at www.bremenyouthservices.org.
L.O.U.D. (Leaders Opposed to Underage Drinking) is dedicated to creating healthy communities and schools that encourage alcohol free youth by implementing evidence-based strategies to fight the contributing factors of underage drinking. Although the two part campaign targets parents and youth separately, its goal is to make both groups aware of the fact underage sobriety is normal. The parent campaign found that 62% of teens from Tinley/Orland Park report their parents' will not provide them alcohol while the youth campaign found that 7/10 students from Tinley/Orland Park say no to alcohol.
For more information about L.O.U.D. Coalition, call 708-687-9200 or email [email protected].
About Bremen Youth Services
Bremen Youth Services (BYS) is a not-for-profit community mental health agency committed to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and families by providing quality mental health, substance abuse and prevention services. Services are provided by licensed counselors, social workers, and graduate level interns, mental health professionals and certified drug and alcohol counselors. The agency is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Bremen Youth Services participates in coalitions to network, collaborate, and maximize the services available to the Bremen Township community. Visit www.bremenyouthservices.org for more information on Bremen Youth Services' services and staff. For questions or personal assistance, please contact Bremen Youth Services at [email protected] or 708-687-9200. The agency's service hours are Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on and Saturdays by appointment only.
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