Communites that Care: Parental dialogue may sway students from drinking

August 21, 2013 

For many, the fall season conjures up images of football games, tailgates, leaves changing on the trees, and carved pumpkins on every front porch you pass. In addition to all of these nostalgic notions, fall is also the time when many of our students and their families pack up their cars and head to their respective college campuses.

As you and your students plan the fall migration back to school, take the opportunity to talk about the consequences of high-risk college drinking. Research strongly suggests that one of the best prevention strategies is for parents to engage in dialog with their students in a way that expresses their concern, values and facts.

When talking to your student, keep in mind that the consequences of underage and excessive drinking impact all campuses, college communities, and students whether or not the student participates in drinking. The following annual data highlights the impacts of high-risk drinking:

• Academic performance: About 25 percent of college age students who report academic problems such as poor test performance, low grades and absenteeism express a strong connection to their alcohol consumption.

• Death: Approximately 1,800 students age 18-24 die from unintentional alcohol-related injuries.

• Assault: Approximately 700,000 students age 18-24 are assaulted by fellow students who are under the influence of alcohol.

• Injuries: An additional 600,000 students age 18-24 are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol.

• Sexual abuse: About 100,000 students age 18-24 are victims of alcohol-related date rape or sexual assault.

• Vandalism: Almost 1 percent of students age 18-24 reported that while under the influence of alcohol, they have damaged or participated in the damage of property.

Excessive and underage drinking are public health problems that exact a toll on the social and intellectual lives of students across the country. By taking the opportunity to talk with your students, you have the ability to make a large impact on their behavior, which could positively effect their college experience and the rest of their lives.

For more information on excessive and underage drinking, please refer to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Community Anti-drug Coalitions of America, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Elizabeth Eckley is the community mobilizer for Centre County Communities that Care. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.

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