- 30% of Marion area residents indicated that they often or very often see adults drink in public (per their response to a random survey in Summer 2004).
- Wisconsin is a national leader in binge drinking, ranking number 2 out of 50 in having the highest binge drinking rates.
“Do as I say, not as I do”is an oft-noted comment from parents. But the fact is, young people do as adults do. This means that if adults are drinking, or drinking heavily, young people will do the same. It is important for adults to behave as they want the children of the community to behave. Drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal, just like shoplifting.
When adults are visible and drunk, it sets a community norm that says, “it’s okay to drink and get drunk.” The next generation hears this message and the cycle of heavy drinking continues. What else is problematic about a community norm that says “it’s okay to get drunk”? Research shows that risk factors for youth substance abuse include norms, values and attitudes that support drug and alcohol use. When young people engage in early drinking, they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior (putting them at risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease like HIV/AIDS and/or getting pregnant). People who start drinking at age 14 are also 4 times more likely to become alcohol-dependent than if they wait until age 21 (http://www.theantidrug.com/drug_info/drug_info_alcohol.asp). These are dangerous and potentially deadly consequences that would not help create a healthy Marion area.
These ideas are summarized in a published statement by H. Watson, a concerned parent: “The only way to keep your children from going astray is for them to have a role model they can respect” (http://www.theantidrug.com/advice/advice_featured_articles.asp on May 1, 2005).
What can YOU do about this issue: With everything you do, pretend that a young person is watching you – would you still do what you are doing? Choose 3 or 4 values you want to model every day, and do them. Get involved in the Marion Area Coalition for Healthy Communities to make the Marion area as safe and healthy as possible. For more information, contact the Marion Area Family Resource Center in the lower level of the library or at 715.754.2491.
We need people working together for a safer and healthier Marion Area.
In the upcoming issues of The Marion Advertiser, the Coalition will be presenting this and other information in small articles. Please watch for the articles and let us know what you think. For more information, contact Trinitie Wilke at 754-2491 or email@example.com.