Herald Journal Columns
April 3, 2006, Herald Journal

‘Just Say No’ isn’t working

By KRISTEN MILLER

In recent meetings across the state, communities are taking action against underage drinking.

With alcohol becoming so much apart of our leisure activities including sports, concerts and social gatherings, drinking not only seems exciting, but it’s become an act of nature.

Alcohol ads and billboards suggest drinking is fun and everyone does it to have a good time.

What they rarely show is drunkenness and the consequences that come from it. For example, drinking to the point of death like the St. Cloud college student who walked into the river because he was so drunk he didn’t know where he was at.

At the minimum, getting caught drinking can cause a fine and a loss in sports, but for some this is only a slap on the wrist.

Telling kids not to drink or smoke only makes them want to do it more.

When I was a teenager, I knew more than my parents (well I thought I did anyway) and what they told me not to do, I’d come up with excuses why it wasn’t as bad as they made it seem.

Knowing how today is much different than when my parents were growing up, made it seem acceptable and they should just get used to the idea.

There are many reasons why underage drinking is so commonplace, but communities are wondering what they can do to change that idea.

Holding the parents and schools responsible isn’t going to work. Telling kids not to do it, isn’t going to work.

Kids have much less responsibility these days. They go to school, they go to sports, and then on the weekends they hangout with their friends.

There is an awful lot of free time for young kids to do what they shouldn’t.

Will making laws stiffer help reduce the numbers? Possibly. Will educating kids at a young age, on the dangers and consequences help? Possibly.

What affects young minds the most, aren’t the parents, but their peers. If their friends are doing it, they more than likely will also.

Parents need to be more aware of what their kids are doing when they aren’t around.

Education needs to be taught at an elementary level by high school students either against drinking or by those who have received consequences from drinking. They will have more of an impact than a 60-year-old health teacher telling them why they shouldn’t do it.

Life is different now. Schools need to teach more than reading, writing and arithmetic. I’m not saying they don’t, but the school’s responsibilities have shifted since 20 years ago.

Parent’s responsibilities have shifted also. It’s more complicated and hard than it used to be. Discipline and responsibility have to be taught in a stronger way.

Communities have more of a responsibility. If the people don’t like something, they have to get off of their couch and do something about it. It’s like voting. People don’t vote because they think others will take care of it for them.

We each have a voice and a social responsibility to make our communities a better place and it’s time to take action.


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