"Be A Parent. Not a Peer." Targets Social Access in Harriman, Tennessee
The mission of the Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition (RCADC) is to reduce youth substance use; to educate and raise awareness of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug issues; to promote community involvement; and to strengthen community partnerships and prevention strategies in Roane County. In 2004, 26.4 percent of youth in Roane County reported using alcohol within the past 30 days. This number dropped to 11.3 percent in 2011. According to Sarah Harrison, the coalition’s Executive Director, the need for a 2014 underage drinking prevention Town Hall Meeting emerged from new data showing a resurgence of alcohol use among area teens. For example, past-month drinking by local high school seniors rose to 16.1 percent in 2013, following several years of declines. Focus groups revealed that many youth have been getting their alcohol from adults, sometimes from grownups in their own families.
In addition to informing parents and local officials about new county data, RCADC wanted to launch the “Be a Parent. Not a Peer.” campaign developed by the Nashville Prevention Partnership. The campaign targets social access to alcohol by reminding parents that it is illegal to provide alcohol to teens. To that end, RCADC planned its Town Hall Meeting to coincide with a monthly, countywide Health Council meeting in order to kick off “Be a Parent. Not a Peer.” among an important group of supporters.
The Town Hall Meeting was organized as a panel discussion, allowing for presentations to the Health Council audience and others who attended and also time for questions and discussion. The panelists included staff from RCADC and representatives of the local Health Crisis Center and from the Senior Center. Local leaders present at the Town Hall Meeting were updated on underage drinking trends in the community and learned about the “Be a Parent. Not a Peer.” campaign and how they could support its messages. They were provided with banners, flyers, and other information for dissemination through their agencies and organizations, including instructions for encouraging parents to complete the “Be a Parent. Not a Peer.” pledge.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The number of participants in the 2014 Town Hall Meeting substantially exceeded the number attending past RCADC Town Hall Meetings. In conjunction with this year’s event, RCADC placed 100 yard signs promoting “Be a Parent. Not a Peer.” messages and obtained an initial batch of 50 signed parent pledges. Following the event, arrangements were made for the coalition to partner with a local sports radio station reaching a large audience of area youth and adults to further promote the new social host messages. The station agreed to air “Be a Parent. Not a Peer.” public service announcements during football games and to feature campaign messages on its website and in its social media communications. Said Harrison, “Thanks to this Town Hall Meeting, our community is more aware of the social host law and of the consequences of underage drinking.”
RCADC will build on interest generated by the May 19, 2014, Town Hall Meeting by further promotion of the “Be a Parent. Not a Peer.” campaign in the county and increasing the number of parents who pledge to prevent youth access to alcohol. The new relationship with the sports radio station will be nurtured to make full use of this opportunity to reach a wider audience. The coalition anticipates that its efforts to promote the campaign and inform community leaders about the latest survey data regarding underage drinking and evidence-based prevention methods will lead to decreases in social access to alcohol by area youth.
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