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Registered: 11/02/14
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Lawrence, KS, area coalition gets creative to keep students free of alcohol, marijuana
    #763477 - 12/27/14 11:10 AM (3 years, 5 months ago)

Since early fall, Lawrence residents may have noticed TV commercials warning viewers about the potential hazards of marijuana use.

A few people took offense, said Jen Jordan, coordinator of Draw the Line Lawrence, the coalition behind the TV spot. But she and her colleagues won't back down, she says, because the ad serves her organization's mission — telling youth about the dangers of substance abuse.

"Our response is that for youth, there is no benefit," said Jordan, who is also the coordinator of prevention services for DCCA (Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcoholism). "And actually it's more harmful because the brain's still developing."

Draw the Line has been behind all kinds of campaigns to persuade Lawrence young people to be alcohol and drug free. It has funded two prevention specialists for Lawrence's public high schools and hired law enforcement to search for underage drinking parties.

The marijuana ad marks a transition for the coalition. Since its beginnings in 2008, the organization has focused primarily on alcohol use, but will now take a harder look at marijuana use.

"I think it's a good organization that is trying to be very creative," said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

Draw the Line was born out of a routine, once-every-two-years town hall meeting in 2008, during which parents gathered with Jordan, law enforcement and other counselors to discuss teens and alcohol. Today, the organization has a 40-member roster and partners frequently with bars, retailers and law enforcement.

The 2014 Kansas Communities that Care Survey says 22 percent of Douglas County 12th-graders had engaged in binge drinking in the previous month — about the state average. Meanwhile, 25 percent said they smoked marijuana. The state average is 18 percent.

Douglas County 12-graders are also more confident than the average Kansas student that they will not be caught by police drinking or smoking pot. About 85 percent of seniors in Douglas County said so about binge drinking, with 79 percent saying so about marijuana.

It's those kinds of numbers that Draw the Line Lawrence hopes to improve. That means educating students and adults. It also means demonstrating real consequences for those who indulge.

In 2011 and 2013, Draw the Line funded groups of law enforcement to specifically root out underage drinking parties around graduation time. Jordan said the search parties in 2013 busted a large gathering outside of town attended by students of a Lawrence public high school. Citations were handed out and one student was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, she said.

Jordan said there has been success in driving down alcohol use. In 2011, not long after the coalition received a five-year, $125,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, 45 percent of Douglas County 12th-graders reported having at least one drink in the previous 30 days. That rate has since dropped to 38 percent, according to Communities that Care, a national effort to reduce youth violence, substance abuse and delinquency.

The vast majority of Draw the Line Lawrence's efforts, though, have been about outreach and education. The coalition funds one part-time prevention specialist at both public high schools to organize various school-wide campaigns with student groups.

Jordan has also worked with bars and liquor stores on identifying fake IDs and posting stickers inside their establishments detailing penalties for furnishing alcohol to minors. She's also known to show up at school orientation and parent-teacher conferences to speak with parents about talking to their kids.

"I've had numerous parents express gratitude that (Draw the Line's) website is there, that conversations are happening, because many times parents simply don't know where to start when it comes to talking with young people," said Diane Ash, a prevention specialist at Lawrence High School.

And then there are the commercials. Other than the marijuana ad, Draw the Line has aired two spots on underage college drinking and one on parents who host underage parties, which is one that Branson particularly appreciates.

"Just because they're doing it at an adult's house doesn't make it a safe practice," he said. "It's still illegal."


SleepAid's Notes: You can find one of their ads right here. Some of these people need to start drinking alcohol with their sleeping pills and make the world a better tomorrow.
The irony of all this is that there is ALREADY a 'draw the line' campaign- it's a womens reproductive organization- and their motto? "I decide what happens to my body".

Signature this, ho.

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