Community Partners Coalition is drawing attention to a new national campaign encouraging parents to talk to their children about underage drinking.

The coalition, a volunteer group, has three goals: curb underage and high-risk drinking, curb illicit drug use and educate kids about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.

“Our coalition seeks to involve all interested citizens to alter community perceptions and public policy concerning alcohol and substance abuse,” says Kristi Roberts, the coalition’s director.

Called “Talk. They Hear You,” the campaign encourages parents to not shy away from what can be an awkward conversation about alcohol and drug use. The public service announcements give parents tips on how to start the conversation, what to say and how to access more resources.

In a PSA that can be viewed on YouTube, a concerned father questions his young son about the crowd his son is hanging around with.

Dad: “Is there any drinking going on in this crowd?”

Son: “No.”

Dad: “I hope not, alcohol can lead you to do things and say things that you really wished you hadn’t.

Son: “I know.”

The narrator adds: “They really do hear you, so start the conversation even before they are teenagers. For tips on what to say, visit (the website) underagedrinking.samhsa.gov.”

The good advice is being presented by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The good news is that parents have more influence over their children than they usually give themselves credit.

“Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children’s perceptions of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, said in a news release.

According to a new survey of children ages 12 to 17, those who know that their parents do not approve of kids drinking alcohol or taking drugs are less likely to do so.

The growing evidence indicates that if parents would talk to their children about alcohol and drugs, it would do a lot of good.

If you want to find more about the campaign and the role of parents in preventing their children from drinking alcohol and taking drugs, you can attend Community Partners Coalition’s next meeting at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Julian’s restaurant. 5201 S. Broadway Ave., or contact Mrs. Roberts at 903-939-9010.

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