Parents are being encouraged to spend a few minutes today talking with their children about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drug use. Governor Branstad has proclaimed today as “Take Five Day.” Peter Komendowski, President of the Partnership for a Drug Free Iowa, says he’s worried “a lot of parents aren’t overly concerned” about their underage child drinking alcohol.
“I think we do such a great job with drugs that are obviously a threat, that we sometimes forget the work we still have left undone for alcohol,” Komendowski says. According to the most recent Iowa data, just over 30% of youth admitted to engaging in underage drinking.
Komendowski suggests more can be done by the legislature to crack down on “social hosting” – which refers to parents or other adults who allow underage drinking parties in their homes. “If we’re not even enacting strong legislation to inhibit social hosting, which is a very dangerous way to get alcohol in the hands a lot of young children quickly, I think we’re really shirking our responsibility,” Komendowski says.
“We need to remind our legislators and elected officials that these are the laws we need on the books – not laws that liberalize more drug use – but laws that actually protect our children from all threats of substance abuse.” The Partnership for a Drug Free Iowa has issued a flyer containing tips for parents on how to talk about drugs with children of all ages.
Komendowski believes it’s more difficult than ever before for parents to guard their children from risky behavior. “The advice we give that’s working most effectively is stay engaged with your children,” Komendowski says.
“As much as you think you’re talking to them, talk to them even more. When they realize this isn’t some off the cuff general bit of advice…that you’re constantly vigilant and constantly caring, I think most children will work hard to live up to their parents’ expectations.”