Utah attorney general and Olympic gold medalist team up against underage drinking

SALT LAKE CITY — Kicking off an month-long observance of “Alcohol Responsibility Month,” Attorney General Sean Reyes, Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility teamed up to release a public service announcement to prevent underage drinking.

In the PSA, through the foundation’s “Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix” program, Reyes and Sanders encourage parents to have conversations with their kids and teens about saying “no” to underage drinking.

See video in media player above

“As a parent of six, I know how hard it can be to have these conversations both from a time and comfort perspective,” Reyes said. “But underage drinking is a reality our children face regularly.”

Reyes said the influence that conversations parents have with their children is impactful, even if the effect isn’t immediately seen or acknowledged by the children.

“When we have real conversations about the effects of underage drinking, we show our children they are strong enough to make the hard and often unpopular choice when confronted by peer pressure,” he said. “I am proud to partner with Responsibility.org as they resource parents with ways to address underage drinking. Together we can profoundly impact the lives and futures of our children in addition to increasing their safety and the safety of those around us.”

Southern Utah has a well-functioning youth drug and alcohol prevention coalition in each of the five counties comprising representatives from various agencies and community organizations. These partnerships allow the coalitions to create a very targeted approach to reducing use and changing behaviors.

These types of partnerships have been shown to prevent and reduce underage drinking in Utah, and youth use rates are continuing to decrease.

Since the inception of Ask, Listen, Learn, underage drinking has decreased 40 percent, according to the 2017 Monitoring the Future study. While this is a significant improvement – underage drinking is at a record low – there is still work to be done.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of Ask, Listen, Learn team,” said Sanders, who won two gold medals, one silver and bronze in the 1992 Olympic swimming competition. “As an Olympian and a mother of two, I’m keenly aware of how important it is to make the right choices, be a positive role model, and have meaningful conversations with my kids. I hope these PSAs will remind parents that they are the biggest influence in their kids’ decision to drink—or not to drink—alcohol and just how important it is to talk to them about underage drinking.”

Reyes encourages parents to talk with kids about alcohol because talking to teens about how drinking is unhealthy and negatively impacts their developing brains has shown to be effective. From 2003 to 2016, conversations between kids and their parents increased 73 percent.

Read more: Do family dinners reduce teen substance abuse? Restaurant, prevention groups aim to get message out

“It was truly a pleasure working with Summer Sanders and so many of our country’s attorneys general in our longstanding joint effort to combat underage drinking,” Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of Responsibility.org  said. “There is no better time than April—Alcohol Responsibility Month—to jumpstart conversations about making smart choices. We hope these PSAs will encourage parents to start the conversation about alcohol responsibility early and continue it often with their kids.”

The PSA will begin airing this month.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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