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September 7, 2011

"Keep Talking Montana" video educates parents and kids about the consequences of underage drinking

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has released a new video that encourages parents to talk to their children about underage drinking.

“This is a valuable tool for schools, parents, family members and community groups,” said DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell. “Alcohol remains the number one drug of abuse for Montana's youth.  Those who have their first drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol that those who wait to begin drinking until age 21.”

However, according to Vicki Turner of the DPHHS Prevention Resource Center, studies show that parental disapproval of underage drinking is the number one reason that children choose not to drink alcohol.  “That’s why parents need to talk to their kids about underage drinking, and then keep talking,” Turner said.

With production support provided through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), the Montana-produced video highlights local challenges and successes in preventing underage drinking.

According to Turner, binge drinking begins as early as sixth grade, and new evidence shows that underage drinking can cause permanent damage to a teen's rapidly developing brain. As a result, the need for parental involvement has never been greater.

The video opens up with a powerful personal story from Patty Stevens of Ronan describing an alcohol-related car crash involving her two sons, seriously injuring one, and fatally injuring the other. Stevens now serves on the Governor’s Interagency Coordinating Council for Prevention.

In the video, Stevens states, “The issue and problem of underage drinking is not a matter of being Indian or white, rich or poor or whether you live in the city or small town – it affects everybody,” she said. “To keep our kids safe, Montana parents need to keep talking. Keep talking to your kids. Keep talking to your friends. Just keep talking about underage drinking.”

The video also includes interviews from other members of the Governor’s Interagency Coordinating Council for Prevention including Lisa Scates, education specialist for the Department of Revenue and Lt. Col. Garth Scott of the Montana Army National Guard; and community preventionists Natale Adorni of the DPHHS Prevention Resource Center and Cheryl Little Dog, coordinator of the Blackfeet Medicine Wheel.

Little Dog, who is paralyzed from the waist down because of an alcohol-related car crash, says she uses her own experience to help other parents. “Whenever I talk to other parents, I tell them don’t let your kids make the same mistake I made when I was young,” she said.

Adorni has this message for parents. “So start the conversation, don’t stop talking and continue to be vigilant in the way you address the issue of underage drinking,” she said in the video.

The video also features a youth perspective. Browning teenager Courtney Juneau, the 2010 Blackfeet Nation North American Indian Days Junior Princess, says it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about alcohol. “They have seen what it does to their family members, or one of their friends, and other kids,” she says in the video.

The youth in the video were also asked, ‘What is the best way for parents to bring up the subject?”

Teenager Patrick Fischer of Helena gives this advice. “You can’t really sugar coat something like this,” he said. “It just has to be said, that I’m concerned about this, I don’t want you doing this, and this is bad.”

Tim McGonigal of KXLH-TV served as the video narrator. 

The video also stresses three main action points that parents can take to reduce the likelihood that their child will consume alcohol before they are of legal age.

The three points are:

  • Talk to your kids about alcohol.
  • Talk to other parents about underage drinking.
  • Get involved in local prevention efforts.

The 10-minute video is available for viewing and download at http://www.parentpower.mt.gov/  The video can also be found at: http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/statevideos.aspx

In coming weeks 600 hard copy DVDs will be distributed to local prevention coalitions, Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service trainers, Pregnant and Parenting Teen Education programs, and DUI Tasks forces.

Page last updated: 07/30/2013