Parents and teenagers learned about ways to eliminate underage drinking at a meeting of Parents Empowered this week at the Springville Library.
The meeting was hosted by Springville City, Art City Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Parents Empowered. It featured Utah First Lady Jeanette Herbert and Steve Wright, representing Parents Empowered.
Wright recalled attending a meeting of several state agencies to set campaign objectives in reducing the number of underage drinkers in Utah.
“Someone suggested a number, maybe it was 60 percent, and that sounded reasonable,” Wright said. “But then someone else spoke up and said that was not the number we wanted as a goal. We want to reduce the number by 100 percent and have no underage drinking alcohol.”
Wright presented his message interspersed with the popular and entertaining commercials seen on Utah television stations and available at parentsempowered.org. He emphasized the vital role that parents play in preventing their teens from drinking.
“When I was 16 and had just gotten a car I was told what time to be home. Do you think I came home on time?” Wright asked with a smile. “I thought I was smarter than my parents, so to sneak in I coasted into the driveway without lights and went through my front door into the dark living room. I was thinking, again, smarter than my parents, that I had pulled it off. Then the light clicked on by my dad’s chair.”
Wright had to take the snow shovel and clear every neighbor’s driveway and walk in his cul-de-sac. Was he ever late again? Yes, and soon his neighbors would shout to him to come home late as he drove off on those winter evenings so they could get their walks shoveled. Every time he was late, he had a consequence.
The point was made in a personal and humorous way, that parents need to not only set rules and communicate their expectations, but they need to monitor their teens’ activities and mete out consequences.
One positive suggestion, backed up by statistics, was for families to eat dinner together. Teens are 33 percent less likely to get involved with underage drinking if they eat dinner five to seven times a week with their family.
“I thought Steve’s presentation was informative, practical and credible with his statistical support and well prepared and presented without notes,” Springville City Councilman Dean Olsen said. “The gift certificate rewards to Reams Grocery store and other sponsors encourage the audience to participate, which was a great way to do that.”
Liz White, 16, co-president of the ASAP club at Springville High School, introduced Herbert and mentioned that like Wright, Herbert grew up in Springville.
“I am concerned about the youth here and everywhere in Utah,” Herbert said. “We have a three-prong approach in eliminating underage drinking. First, with elementary school musical performances where the children perform and give information to parents, second we have a website www.upliftutahfamilies.org where all the different information is available to answer questions from parents, and third we are holding a parenting conference on May 4 and 5 with 70 different presenters.”
Brenna Donnelley, 16, admitted she came with her dad to make up her tardies and absences.
“I came for detention credit and didn’t really know what the meeting was going to be about,” she said. “But I thought it was really good and there was a lot of helpful information.”