Office for Children’s Mental Health says preventing underage drinking requires community involvement

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Office of Children’s Mental Health Director Linda Hall said Friday that we all need to work together to prevent underage drinking.

Although underage drinking has declined in Wisconsin over the years, young people in Wisconsin still drink more than young people in other states.

Underage drinking leads to an increased likelihood of risky sexual behavior, acts of violence, trouble at school and with the law, health officials noted. According to the Office of Children’s Mental Health, it can also lead to an increased likelihood of worsening current or emerging symptoms of depression and anxiety.

New data from the CDC shows a 25% increase in deaths of Wisconsinites directly linked to heavy drinking. These data are not limited to young people, but it is important to recognize how young people are affected by these deaths.

The Office of Children’s Mental Health said young people in Wisconsin consume more than young people in the other 49 states. A 2018 study showed that only 36% of children aged 12 to 17 thought it was risky to drink five or more drinks once or twice a week.

In addition, 90% of alcohol consumption among young people is in the form of binge drinking.

Broad community involvement is needed to prevent underage drinking, with strategies such as making alcohol less available, attractive, affordable and acceptable.

The Office of Children’s Mental Health also said parents can have small, informal conversations with their children to help them make healthier decisions about alcohol.

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