On Thursday, March 18 at the Salem High School Gym, the Fulton County Healthy Arkansas Coalition in partnership with the Salem School District, hosted a town hall meeting to address underage drinking among Fulton County youth.
Two Arkansas State Troopers and a Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy were on hand to answer questions and to assist students and parents with a set of "drunk" goggles, so they could experience the affects of alcohol inebriation first hand.
The shocking truth about underage drinking is that it starts before high school -- in Fulton County, the typical first use of alcohol by a child is 10 years old.
Over 14 percent of 10th graders and almost 28 percent of 12th graders reported being drunk at least once in the past 30 days.
The majority of Fulton County youth report that they get alcohol from home or from someone over the age of 18, with or without a parent's permission.
Some of the warning signs that parents can watch for are:
* Mood changes or flare-ups of temper, irritability and defensiveness.
* Poor attendance, low grades and/or recent disciplinary action.
* Rebelling against family rules.
* Switching friends, along with a reluctance to introduce you to their new friends.
* A sloppy appearance, lack of involvement in former interests and general low energy.
* Finding alcohol in your child's room or backpack or smelling alcohol on their breath.
* Memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination or slurred speech.
To help your child resist potential peer pressure, there are several quick "one-liners" that will allow them to refuse the alcohol without making a scene that could cause additional peer pressure. Some of these are:
"No thanks," "I don't feel like it - do you have any soda?" and "Alcohol's not my thing." It works best if your child takes the lead in coming up with a good one line refusal, but these can help get the brainstorming started.
For more information, call Wanda Koelling at the Fulton County Health Unit at 870-895-3300.