Town of Arlington
Department of Health and Human Services
Christine Bongiorno, Director
27 Maple St.
Arlington, MA 02476
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 5, 2016
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition Meets with State Leaders to Discuss Prevention of Underage Drinking
ARLINGTON — Director Karen Koretsky is pleased to announce that representatives from the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition presented a Prevention Position Paper containing evidence based actions to prevent underage drinking to legislators last month.
On April 5, student members of the coalition, alongside community leaders from Somerville, Cambridge, and Everett traveled to the State House to present their Prevention Position Paper. Arlington’s state Sen. Cindy Friedman and state. Rep. Sean Garballey were in attendance.
The paper reflected information gathered from some of the region’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which are administered to high schools each year. Results from the June 2017 survey confirmed the percentage of students who have experimented and use alcohol.
Percentage of students who have consumed alcohol within the past 30 days:
- Arlington: 27.9 percent
- Cambridge: 32 percent
- Everett: 17.5 percent
- Somerville: 19 percent
Percentage of students who have tried alcohol:
- Arlington: 57.1 percent
- Cambridge: 53 percent
- Everett: 38.2 percent
- Somerville: 44 percent
Underage drinking is an integral focus of the Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the younger people are when they first consume alcohol, the worse the outcomes are for their overall health and brain development, and the more likely they will be to develop an alcohol addiction. Youth Risk Behavior Surveys administered in Arlington, Cambridge, Everett and Somerville indicate that the most common ways for youth to obtain alcohol is by having an older sibling or friend provide it to them or by using a fake ID.
“If our communities can eliminate these risk factors, we can foster a healthier and safer environment for our youth,” Koretsky said. “By working with key stakeholders in the state, we hope to implement positive change in all communities to prevent underage drinking.”
During the meeting at the State House, SAPC youth leaders recommended three strategies to reduce youth alcohol use and ways to implement these strategies.
1. Increase barriers in order to reduce youth access of alcohol.
- Change punishment for providing to minors to include something that is more easily enforced (loss of a license, etc.)
- Require establishments that sell alcohol to have strict protocols, including scanning IDs (and have employees complete training to recognize fake identification). Refusing out of state IDs would be an included safeguard or requiring two forms of ID.
- Urge liquor retailers to refuse to sell to those with out of state identification.
2. Increase youth understanding of the widespread harm that alcohol causes.
- Create PSAs, posters and campaigns that emphasize positive social norms.
- Increase advertisement restrictions, especially on social media.
3. Reduce youth exposure to alcohol.
- Alcohol placement restrictions.
- MBTA ban on alcohol advertisements.
Arlington students, junior Ellie Egan and sophomore Maire Beck, also spoke about the work they’re spearheading in Arlington, including a “Sticker Shock” campaign, where community, youth and alcohol retailers worked together to prevent minors from obtaining alcohol and their “Majority Rules” positive social norm campaign at Arlington High School.
The meeting concluded with an open discussion between the students and elected officials about what they are doing to reduce underage drinking, and what they hope to do in the future.