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National Public Education Campaign Under Way to Reduce Underage Drinking Substance Abuse and Mental Health Health Services Administration

A new national effort to encourage parents to speak with their children about this critical problem is under way. Some people find it hard to believe that by the time they reach eighth grade, 41 percent of adolescents have had at least one drink, and almost 20 percent report having been drunk. It’s also a fact that adults who had first used alcohol before age 15 are five times more likely to report dependence on or abuse of alcohol than adults who first used it at age 21 or older. In addition to its negative impact on health, alcohol use among youth is strongly correlated with violence, risky sexual behavior, poor academic performance, driving incidents and other harmful behaviors.

Yet many parents do not see drinking as a top-of-mind issue. To help bring this issue to the forefront, a new campaign is encouraging parents to speak with their children about the negative effects of alcohol to delay the onset of, and ultimately to prevent, underage drinking.


The campaign, developed in partnership with the Ad Council, is aimed at the parents of middle schoolers, particularly those whose children have not started drinking. Parents need to realize they have more influence over their children than they may know. Sure, kids spend a lot of time with friends, television, music, magazines and the Web. But they are also tuned in to what their parents say and do. Parents’ disapproval of underage alcohol use is one of the key reasons youths choose not to drink. Underage drinking is not inevitable.

For too long underage drinking has been accepted as a rite of passage. Far too many young people, along with their friends and families, have paid the price. Any use of alcohol for teens involves risk-any use, not just binge drinking or drinking and driving. Alcohol can affect the developing adolescent brain. And we’ve learned the earlier a person is introduced to alcohol, the greater the chances are that that person will develop an alcohol problem in his or her youth and/or adulthood.

We must change attitudes toward teen drinking from acceptance to abstinence and recognize the importance of parents talking to their children early and often about alcohol, especially before they’ve started drinking. We must replace an environment that all too often enables underage alcohol use with an environment that discourages it.

Children need information to make good decisions. Don’t wait until a problem arises to talk with them about drinking alcohol. Be sure to talk with them about the law, how alcohol affects the body, and how peer pressure can sometimes make it difficult to do the right thing. Discuss your personal beliefs with your children. Sharing your values and family history regarding alcohol helps create an environment of trust and understanding.

Get involved in your community and your child’s school.

By: Adam Johnes

Child Abuse and Neglect

Their abusers may have threatened them with harm if they tell someone, or they may feel intense guilt for things that aren’t their fault. Emotional and physical scars can last well into adulthood and can affect the overall health of former victims, as well as their future relationships with others.

Types of Maltreatment Physical abuse: This means intentionally causing an injury to a child. This includes hitting, burning, shaking, or otherwise harming a child.

Neglect : Both physical and emotional neglect are possible. Neglect means failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether they be for food, water, a place to live, or love and attention.

Sexual abuse : This category includes any inappropriate sexual behavior with a child, including touching, or taking photographs.

Emotional and verbal abuse: This mean rejecting children, blaming them, or constantly scolding them, particularly for problems beyond their control.

Death is the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. More than 1,000 children die in the U.S. each year because of abuse or neglect. Over half of all victims of neglect. Neglected children may fail to develop mentally and physically at the same time rate as their peers. Physically abused children may bear physical scars or become permanently disabled. All abused children suffer emotionally. They often feel lonely, uninvolved, guiltu for no reason, and unworthy of care and attention. These feelings may persist into adulthood and cause problems in relationships.

Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse and Neglect



Physically abused children may have bruises, broken bones, or burn marks that cannot be explained. This is not always the case, thought. Not all physical abuse leaves marks on visible parts of the child’s body, such as the face or arms. Some abusers intentionally leave no marks when they hurt children.


Children who are sexually abused sometimes run away, refuse to participate in physical activities, and exhibit sexual knowledge beyond their normal level of development.


Emotionally abused children often show aggression, act inappropriately like an adult (bossing other children), or like a very young child (rocking back and forth)


 The following signs that children may be being mistreated:



Learing problems that cannot be explained
No adult supervision
Withdrawal from others
No desire to go home after school or other activities
Fearfulness, as though waiting for something bad to happen
Changes in school performance or behaviour
Has untreated medical conditions

 Who Abuses Children? An adult in the home is most often to blame for physical abuse. Statistics indicate that mothers abuse children more often than fathers do.


In sexual abuse cases, however, it is most often another relative or a family friend who harms the child, not a parent.



People who abuse children often have difficulty controlling their impulses. While many parents feel frustrated when a child is crying or whining. People who abuse children often act without thinking. Abusers often feel depressed, extremely anxious, or overwhelmed. In many cases, they were abused children themselves as children and they don’t know how to discipline children in a constructive way. Abuse may come from only one parent. The other parent may deny that it’s happening. Sometimes, only one child in a family is targeted for abuse.


Why does Child Abuse Occur ?

Children are never responsible for the abuse or harm that others inflict on them. Some children, however, are more vulnerable to maltreatment than others.





Children with physical and mental disabilities are more likely to be abused. Younger children are neglected more often, and they are more likely to die of maltreatment.


When children are sexually abused, the abuse most often occurs before age seven. Girls are more often the victims of sexual abuse than boys are.


Immature mothers who have children at a young age are more likely to abuse children. So are people who live in poverty and have few resources to help with child care and other responsibilities. Child abusers may be socially isolated or stressed die to unemployment. However, abuse can occur in households of any income or education level, ethnicity, or religious background. In families with domestic violence where one parent abuses the other, children are more likely to be hurt as well.


Abusive parents often don’t know enough about child development to have reasonable expectations. Some expect even very young children to obey them promptly or remember rules given earlier. If abusers get help, they can learn what to expect from children of various ages and how to nurture them.


What Can Be Done ? Abusing or neglecting children in any way is illegal. People who work with children, including teachers, doctors, nurses, and counsellors are required by law to report maltreatment if they are evidence of it.





While others may not have a legal obligation to report abuse, they should contact child protective service agencies as soon as they suspect it. Every state has a child welfare agency.


When an agency hears a report of possible child abuse, it send someone to investigate if the child is thought to be in danger, the court may place the child in a foster home, if there is a history of abuse, or if the child has severe injuries, parents may be arrested and charged with crimes. Ultimately, their parental rights may be terminated and their children may never live with them again.


Putting abusers in prison gives children temporary protection but doesn’t solve the problem. In most cases, abusers undergo treatment and counselling to understand the reasons for the abuse and to end it.


Most abusive parents must learn how to care for their children and treat them in living ways. Several programs are available to help them.


Some communities have crisis nurseries, child care facilities where troubled parents can go when they have nowhere else to turn. Many are open open 24 hors a days and provide short term free child care. Crisis nurseries provide children with a safe environment. Using a crisis nursery gives parents a chance to cool off and cope with their frustrations, anger, and problems without hurting their children. These facilities often provide parenting classes, counseling, and job training.


When abuse or neglect occurs, there are usually signs in both children and adults. Neglected children are often absent from school, steal food or money, have poor personal hygiene, and lack protective clothing for wet or cold weather.