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Schools

Have The Pre-College Talk. It Can Make The Difference.

Many colleges require freshman students to take mandatory online “alcohol edu” programs with one in four college students meeting criteria for alcohol dependence.  While these programs address “harm reduction” and informing students about the legal ramifications and negative health effects of underage drinking . Manhasset Coalition Against Substance Abuse (CASA) reminds parents that they play a significant role in the prevention of their teen’s college drinking.

The consequences of excessive drinking by college students are significant and more costly than many parents realize.  Drinking by college students, aged 18 to 24, contributes to an estimated 1,825 student deaths, 599,000 injuries, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.

According to Robert Turrisi, Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State, “Our research over the past decade shows that parents can play a powerful role in minimizing drinking ... when they talk to their teens about alcohol before they enter college.”  Turrisi worked in collaboration with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to develop Power of Parents, a handbook, which CASA will reference at guidance meetings for grades 8-12.  The handbook advises parents to promote positive values, lead the way by example and build communication with their child.   

As the fall semester begins, parents have an opportunity to guide their college-age student by discussing the consequences of excessive drinking.  The first six weeks of the semester are critical to  academic success and the potential exists for excessive alcohol consumption to interfere with  adaptation to campus life.

During these crucial, early weeks, parents can do a variety of things to stay involved.  CASA suggests:

• Attend freshman orientation programs with your teen to learn about campus policies related to alcohol use and campus counseling programs;

• Inquire about the college’s “parental notification” policy;

• Communicate regularly with your son or daughter and reminding your child of family values;

• Inquire about their roommates and how they handle disagreements or disruptive behavior;

• Make sure your student understands the relevant law and the school’s penalties for using fake ID, underage drinking, public drunkenness, driving under the influence, and other alcohol-related offenses.

• Make certain that your student understands how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence, academic failure and ultimately death.

Manhasset High School seniors participated in Stony Brook University’s Red Watch Band program.  The curriculum helps students understand the importance of recognizing an alcohol overdose as a medical emergency.  The course provided the knowledge, skills and confidence to help prevent a tragedy.  The district administration, faculty, CASA, and the School Community Association coordinated and implemented the program with the help of the Robbie Levine Foundation through its “Teens for Life” initiative, which also provided CPR/AED certification for every participant.  

Dr. Turrisi’s research indicates when parents talk with their teens before entering college their teens are more likely to remain in the non-drinking or light-drinking groups or to transition out of a heavy-drinking group, if they were already heavy drinkers.  “Parents, talk with your kids about underage drinking.  Our research shows that without your involvement, our college age sons and daughters move from each drinking level into higher drinking levels.”

For parents who want to talk to their college-bound children about the consequences of college drinking, a variety of helpful resources are available at www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov. Parents can also access a copy of the Power of Parents on Manhasset CASA’s website at www.manhassetcasa.org .

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy & Campus Crime Statistics Act requires colleges and universities to disclose, among other things, liquor-law violations resulting in arrest or disciplinary referral.  To access a college’s latest report, go to http://ope.ed.gov/security/ .