TULSA, OK – [December 17, 2015] – The holidays are a time for fun, celebration and relaxation. However, it is also a time when youth are more likely to have access to alcohol. The Tulsa Health Department’s Regional Prevention Coordinator program encourages parents to start early in talking to their children about the dangers of underage drinking.
“Most students are out of school for winter break, and people tend to have more alcohol in their home during the holiday season,” said Marianne Long, Tulsa Health Department’s RPC program manager. “On an average day in December in the United States, approximately 11,000 youth will try alcohol for the first time. This is a public health problem because alcohol is the most widely used substance by our youth, and it is the leading cause of death and injury.”
An Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment survey conducted in 2014 found that in Tulsa County, 25.6% of responding 6th grade students reported they had consumed alcohol in their lifetime. Additionally, 40.5% of responding 12th grade students reported they had used alcohol with the last 30 days.
“This data reveals that underage drinking in Tulsa County is a real issue which needs to be addressed,” said Long. “The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that alcohol use by adolescents can interrupt brain development and result in cognitive impairment, not to mention chronic alcohol abuse in later life.”
The OPNA survey is given to 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade students across the state every two years. The survey helps determine students’ involvement in and attitudes toward alcohol use, drug use, violence and other problem behaviors. The survey assesses peer and parent attitudes on these behaviors as well as other risk and protective factors which have been shown to influence academic success, likelihood of school dropout, violence and substance abuse.
School and student participation is voluntary and the responses are confidential.
“Besides educating their children on the dangers of underage drinking, we encourage parents to request that their child’s school participates in the 2016 OPNA survey,” said Long. “School participation is voluntary; however, the data gleaned from the survey is a strong tool in applying for grants and complying with federal programs. The school administrators will receive a custom report with their school and district level data, which can help administrators determine the need for interventions to improve academic test scores, general school performance, and positive behaviors.”
For more information about the survey and how your child’s school can be involved, please contact Kathryn Rodriguez at email@example.com or 918-595-4036.
Regional Prevention Coordinators
Regional Prevention Coordinators is a grant funded program established to reduce the rates for underage drinking, adult binge drinking, and the non-medical use of painkillers within Tulsa County. The work of RPC is concentrated on population-level change in Tulsa County by assisting communities in determining the substance abuse problems affecting their constituents and the most effective strategies to address these problems. RPC works with local coalitions and stakeholders to gather data, track trends, and provide training and technical assistance within the community. Additionally, RPC provides support for town hall meetings and assists with local alcohol compliance operations. For more information regarding the RPC program at the Tulsa Health Department, please visit www.tulsa-health.org.