Announcements aim to reduce under age drinking - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Announcements aim to reduce under age drinking

Boys and Girls Club of Albany Administrative Assistant Lesia Irvin Boys and Girls Club of Albany Administrative Assistant Lesia Irvin
Dr. Bruce Smith Dr. Bruce Smith
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

State health officials are using movie theaters to get their message about the danger of underage drinking to children and teens.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is sponsoring public service announcements to be played before movies across the state to fight early alcohol use.

We talked to a lot of health and youth experts in South Georgia, and they all agree that kids and teens pay close attention to movies. And maybe hearing kids talk about drinking before those movies will make them think.

A Public Service Announcement says "I was 9 when I first had my first drink. Sometimes I am bored or.... I thought it was the cool thing to do. My mom just thought I had the flu."

Boys and Girls of Albany officials, who work with young people every day, say there is a real underage drinking problem in South Georgia. Boys and Girls Club of Albany Administrative Assistant Lesia Irvin said "A contributing factor is a lot of the social media sites that are out there. And the movies out there. They portray that it's OK for teens to go out and drink alcohol."

Officials with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities say underage drinking is a danger to young people. That everyday 5,000 kids under the age of 16 take their first drink. And not only is it bad for their health, but leads to unintended problems.

 "For girls, alcohol use correlates with unwanted sex. And Albany still has a problem with teen pregnancies," Dr. Bruce Smith said.

State health officials say more than 150 Georgia children die from alcohol related issues each year, like drinking and driving. "They are a lot more likely to be in a serious car wreck. More likely to not be restrained in a safety belt, and a lot more likely to be seriously injured or die,"  Dr. Smith said.

State health officials say their movie PSA will focus on reducing early alcohol use among children and teens, and binge drinking in teens and young adults. Teen experts say it's a good idea. "Yes, it does make a difference to a teen. Because if it's on a movie screen then it must be something that is OK to do or not to do," Irvin said.

And to get parents thinking. The PSA says "We're drinking younger and we're smarter about hiding it, that's what I told her. So don't believe everything that we say. Check it out for yourself. Take underage drinking seriously."

Officials call this movie campaign "Alcohol Prevention Project", and will run those public service announcements in theaters across Georgia through the end of June, 2014. Albany Dougherty Drug Unit agents have held two undercover checks of stores selling alcohol in Dougherty County this year, and made 18 arrests for violations.

Agents say they will hold at least a couple more underage drinking stings before the end of the year, to try to stop stores from selling alcohol to underage people.

 

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