Underage Drinking Prevention Strategies (page 2)
Following is a description of a variety of prevention strategies that are categorized according to the risk and protective factor framework.
Community Based Strategies (CB)
Underage drinking community based prevention strategies need to address the following issues. Organizations with limited resources will need to determine which strategies are most important and prioritize these activities.
- Reduce access to alcohol.
- Establish community laws and norms that disapprove of underage drinking.
- Increase awareness about the nature and extent of underage drinking.
- Mobilize communities to develop neighborhoods where atmosphere, appearance, and safety are important.
- Increase supervision of young people.
- Provide opportunities for youth to contribute to the community.
The following are “best practices” or suggested strategies for preventing underage drinking. Again, it will be necessary to prioritize based on available resources. Many of these strategies are discussed in greater detail in the Community How To Guides on Underage Drinking Enforcement, Public Policy and Media Relations. There is a wealth of data and information that supports the effectiveness of these strategies and practices.
CB 1 Reduce access to alcohol
- Limit the hours of sale or number of licensees (universal)
Availability is a great predictor of alcohol use. If large numbers of alcohol outlets are located in a given area, alcohol-related problems will generally increase. Communities that need to control the general availability of alcohol — to adults and to youth — can implement licensing and control strategies including limiting hours of sale or the number of licensees in an area, pass laws that limit the age of servers and other prevention strategies.
- Compliance checks (also known as “stings” or decoy operations) (universal)
Compliance checks with law enforcement and alcohol beverage control agencies can “check” the sales policy and practices of stores, bars, restaurants and hotels that sell alcohol. Conducting these checks and publicizing the findings has proven to reduce sales of alcohol to minors.
- “Cops in Shops” and similar programs (universal)
“Cops in Shops” programs work in cooperation with vendors to place law enforcement officers, liquor agents, or inspectors in stores to pose as clerks. The officer trains the clerk(s) to detect false, altered, or fraudulent identification and if a minor attempts to purchase alcohol, the law enforcement officer cites the minor.
- Third party, shoulder tap and “Mister, Will You?” programs (universal)
Shoulder-tap or “Mister, will you…?” programs are designed to discourage adults from buying for youth and to discourage young people from asking adults to buy for them.
- Adult responsibility laws (universal)
States or local jurisdictions can enact laws to hold adults, who are in charge of the premises, responsible for any illegal drinking which takes place while they are present. They can also vigorously enforce laws related to providing alcohol for minors or contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
- Server/seller training (universal)
Server/seller training educates merchants on their legal responsibilities and on effective techniques for controlling sales to minors and to individuals who are intoxicated. This education is most effective when used in conjunction with compliance checks. The fact sheet, Preventing Sales of Alcohol to Minors: What You Should Know About Merchant Education Programs, developed for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program has several recommendations such as educational programs for merchants that includes information about laws and penalties, information indicating the importance of avoiding sales to minors to protect the health and well-being of the entire community, an emphasis on proper management techniques, information on how to recognize fake IDs, and tips on how to refuse a sale safely and comfortably.
The Maryland Hospitality Education Foundation developed a special “young adult server training” that includes tips for young people who may feel intimidated by their friends or by older, intoxicated customers. The classes provide information on how to avoid confrontation and peer pressure as well as management skills and responsible alcohol service. The training involves off-sale and package good establishments, hotels, country clubs, caterers, and restaurants.
- Consistent penalties for merchants who break the law (selective)
Citing clerks and shop owners who break the law is only effective if serious consequences are imposed by the board of license commissioners, liquor board, or other alcohol licensing authority.
- Dram shop liability laws for sales to minors (universal)
Dram shop liability laws hold merchants accountable when intoxicated drivers they serve cause crashes after leaving their establishment.
- Keg registration laws (universal)
Keg registration laws require that an adult who takes a keg out of an alcohol outlet must fill out a form that contains their name, address, and other information. Although keg registration offers enforcement agencies an additional tool, it is primarily designed to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors by discouraging adults from providing kegs for minors and by making it less attractive for youth to attempt to secure kegs by presenting fake IDs.
CB 2 Establish community laws and norms that disapprove of underage drinking.
- Zero tolerance laws (universal)
Every state has now passed some version of “zero tolerance” legislation that sets a blood alcohol limit for youth in that state which is lower than the blood alcohol limits set for adults in the state. These “zero tolerance” laws can be very effective in reducing alcohol-related traffic crashes among youth if they are vigorously enforced and well publicized.
- Alcohol enforcement units or special “party patrols” (universal)
Party patrols and other enforcement strategies to break up parties and cite the youth involved signal strong community disapproval of underage drinking and seek to reduce the opportunities for drinking. Publicizing these efforts helps to build awareness of the underage drinking problem and the efforts underway to curb it.
- End alcohol-industry sponsorship of, and prohibit or restrict, alcohol sales at public events such as fairs, festivals, sporting events, etc. (universal)
In many communities, local beer distributors or manufacturers sponsor events for adults and youth. Some communities have been successful in preventing alcohol-industry sponsorship of large sports activities. The Troy Community Coalition in Troy, Michigan learned that an alcohol-industry-sponsored sports event was scheduled for their town and succeeded in preventing the activity from taking place until alternate sponsors could be recruited.
Alcohol sales at large public events are also popular and many are poorly monitored. Minors often find it easy to obtain alcohol and the large numbers of people drinking sometimes leads to fighting, rowdiness, vandalism, and impaired driving as people leave the scene. Ending or closely monitoring alcohol sales at these events demonstrates the community’s strong disapproval of illegal underage drinking and irresponsible adult drinking and may also help to reduce access to alcohol and related problems.
In Washington, D.C., organizers of the city’s Latino Festival decided to eliminate alcohol service and sales at the Festival after episodes of alcohol-related violence. Although some people in the community predicted that the Festival would lose sponsors and participants if alcohol was banned, the Festival has continued to flourish since alcohol was eliminated and attendees have reported that they feel safer than they did when alcohol was served and sold at the event.
- Restrict billboards and other forms of alcohol advertising (universal)
Billboards, advertising on bus backs and sides and in bus shelters, and banners and placards to advertise alcohol in public places are widespread in many communities and often are especially prevalent in minority communities and near schools. In recognition of the fact that exposure to these advertising tools has been demonstrated to affect attitudes towards using alcohol, many communities are enacting ordinances or laws to restrict billboards and other forms of advertising.
The Coalition Against Billboard Advertising of Alcohol and Tobacco (CABAAT) in Detroit, Michigan targeted the issue of alcohol advertising. One of their activities was to conduct a survey of the number of billboards in the city and publicize the number that advertised alcohol. The media was used to publicize their findings as well as publicize the harm these ads were causing in the community.
- Fake ID laws (selective)
Enforcing laws about possessing, using, manufacturing, and selling fake IDs can signal the community’s strong disapproval and may curtail the availability and use of the IDs.
ýThe RAAM (Reducing Alcohol Availability to Minors) in Ocean City, Maryland targets ID checks in the stores and has enlisted cooperation from landlords for evicting underage drinkers during “Beach Week,” a high risk time for underage drinking. The result has been a decrease in alcohol-related deaths.
- Sobriety checkpoints (selective)
Although police may actually arrest only a few impaired drivers during individual sobriety èheckpoints, checkpoints have been demonstrated to be very effective in reducing crashes and impaired driving. Well-publicized checkpoints also help to express the community disapproval of impaired driving and underage drinking.
- >Use/lose laws (indicated)
ýIn some jurisdictions, youth who are cited or arrested for drinking may lose their driving privileges or be subject to other penalties through the motor vehicle administration, juvenile courts, or juvenile justice administration. Local prevention organizations can work to ensure that appropriate penalties exist and are consistently used.
- Diversion programs (indicated)
Diversion programs are designed to keep underage drinking cases from clogging the justice system and to provide needed rehabilitation without giving the young person a criminal record. They are especially appropriate because of the large percent of underage drinkers who can benefit from substance abuse and/or mental health treatment. It will be necessary to develop at least two programs, one for juveniles (under age 18 in most states) and one for older offenders (18-20 years of age, in most states).
- A court watch program (indicated)
A court watch program is a tool that can be used by community groups in finding out the disposition of underage drinking cases. They can also be used to engage the justice system in an underage drinking effort. A court watch is appropriate when:
- Information is not available on what is happening to offenders.
- It is necessary to draw attention to what is happening to offenders.
- Attention is needed to the connection between alcohol and other offenses.
Special permission will need to be granted to attend a juvenile hearing since most are not open to the public.
Appendix #2 includes Tips on Establishing Diversion and Court Watch Programs supplied by the Combating Underage Drinking Program in Maryland. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also has information on establishing a court watch program.
CB 3 Increase awareness about the nature and extent of underage drinking.
- Publicize underage enforcement efforts (universal)
Publicizing strong enforcement efforts targeted at underage drinking, including compliance checks, Cops In Shops programs, sobriety checkpoints (which take place at locations and times identified as high-risk) and other campaigns, can build awareness of the underage drinking issue. It can also create a “healthy paranoia” among potential offenders and generate support for the enforcement campaigns from the media, policy makers, and the public.
The Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention Program in Austin, Texas, publicizes intensive underage drinking enforcement programs at prom time and other “high risk” times of the year by sending out news releases and arranging for coverage on a cable television show hosted by the project’s director.
- Conduct media and targeted public information campaigns (universal)
ýThe traffic safety community has successfully used media campaigns to enhance enforcement efforts for many years. One of the most successful programs in recent years has been the “Click It or Ticket” campaign in North Carolina to encourage the use of seat belts.
Public service campaigns to prevent impaired driving by encouraging friends to take a drinker’s keys or utilize other intervention techniques have been more effective against impaired driving, but may not stop underage consumption.
The Detroit City Council Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention developed a media campaign to target alcohol consumption entitled “Denounce the 40-Ounce.” The campaign, whose slogan was recognized by over 50 percent of city residents in just a year, persuaded the Everfresh Juice Company to reconsider marketing iced tea in pint-sized flasks resembling liquor bottles. For its efforts, the program was recognized by Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Crime Prevention Association of Michigan.
Media coverage can also be an extremely effective tool for advocating changes in laws, policies and procedures that will enhance prevention efforts. Project Extra Mile in Omaha, Nebraska (See Pilot Projects), alerted the public to serious flaws in the laws regarding underage drinking by launching a media campaign to highlight the problems.
Media relations campaigns can also help generate support and attention for new underage drinking prevention programs. In some cases, the best way to secure coverage is to ask members of the media what they think about the underage drinking issue. In Hermantown, Minnesota, Lenoir County, North Carolina, and Tippecanoe County, Indiana coalitions that were launching new underage drinking prevention efforts invited members of the media to talk with them and to explain how the media viewed underage drinking in the community. Each of the reporters who were invited to talk to coalition members also produced large and important stories about the new programs.
More information on media is available in the Community How to Guide on Media Relations.
Several studies have been published about informing students of normative behavior that differs from the perception. More information is available in an article entitled, Designing Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Programs. Information on obtaining the article is included in the Resource Section of this book.
CB 4 Mobilize communities to develop neighborhoods where atmosphere, appearance and safety are important.
- Communities That Care, Developmental Research Programs, Seattle, Washington (universal)
Communities That Care is a program from Developmental Research Programs, an organization founded by Dr. J. David Hawkins and Dr. Richard F. Catalano. It is a model that builds on the knowledge gained from successful community prevention efforts and provides an effective process for mobilizing communities to address adolescent problem behaviors. Communities That Care includes the following components:
- Involves a broad spectrum of individuals, groups, and organizations who represent the diversity of the community
- Builds support for the risk and protective factor-focused prevention from key leaders as well as grassroots community members
- Promotes widespread communication and collaboration
- Utilizes a data-driven assessment process
- Promotes a long-term community commitment
CB 5 Increase supervision of young people
- After-school programs (universal)
One way to enhance prevention efforts is to get youth involved in healthy pursuits that reduce their exposure to risky situations that promote the use of alcohol and other drugs, especially during their leisure time. Today’s youth especially need alternative activities. Shrinking funding caused many youth service organizations to scale back their activities and profound changes in American life have increased the need for supervised after-school activities. After school programs and activities decrease the amount of unsupervised time during the high-risk hours of 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. when many adolescents take their first drinks.
Appendix #3 lists some of the Characteristics of Effective After-School Programs taken from the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Smart program which included information from the 1998 “Beyond Prevention Curricula: A Guide to Developing Alternative Activities.”
CB 6 Provide opportunities for youth to contribute to the community
- Community Service Projects (universal)
The Save Our Youth Coalition in Salt Lake City, Utah works with the Salt Lake County Public Schools in providing financial support to forty-four high school and junior high school peer leadership teams. These teams conduct a number of activities, some of which focus on underage drinking or substance abuse, but many on helping the community. These activities range from a clean up of an area, trash pick up along a designated highway, or visits to senior citizen centers. Community activities are viewed as an important way for the youth to feel connected to the community at large, and help them see that their actions, such as underage drinking, can negatively impact others.
- Extra-curricular activities (selective)
Participation in extra-curricular activities such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) also provide young people with an opportunity to contribute to their community. SADD chapters conduct a number of programs and activities both in schools and in the community by raising awareness about the dangerous consequences of underage drinking.
School Based Strategies
Underage drinking school based strategies need to address the following issues:
- Policies that encourage an alcohol free life-style.
- Classroom curricula that develops good interpersonal skills and social competence.
- The community and schools working together.
- Positive behavior management.
- Accurate information on the role(s) of alcohol in life.
- Policies prohibiting alcohol use at school or school-sponsored events. (universal)
Along with educating students in the classroom, schools express community norms and expectations through their rules, management plans and other strategies. Clear, consistently applied policies should prohibit alcohol use at school or school-sponsored events (including dances and sporting events).
At whatever level the policies are used, they must be clear, communicated to the students and universally applied. Consequences for 7iolating the policies should be swift and significant. In some schools, for instance, students who violate the school’s alcohol-related policiesýmay be cut from sports teams or prohibited from participating in other extracurricular events. They may also be subject to suspension, expulsion or other disciplinary measures. Students can sign pledges not to drink alcohol as a condition of participation in sports or other extracurricular activities.
- Living/Learning Contract (selective)
At Yakima Valley Community College in Yakima, Washington, the Student Resident Center has adopted a living/learning contract that addresses a number of issues, including alcohol use.
At the beginning of each academic year, all resident students attend an orientation session during which students review the policies in the student handbook, including alcohol policies that prohibit the possession, consumption or furnishing of alcoholic beverages in the Student Resident Center and its adjoining grounds. At the end of the orientation, students sign the living/learning contract that is part of their formal agreement with the college. By signing the contract, students confirm that they have been informed of the college’s policies and procedures. If a student violates the contract, a judicial review committee that includes students and staff is convened to review the incident and recommend disciplinary action.
The college reports that since the implementation of the living/learning contract, annual damage to the residence facilities was reduced to 20 percent of previous annual damage. The college also indicated that reports of rape and other violent crimes have decreased dramatically.
The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention’s 1997 publication “Setting and Improving Policies for Reducing Alcohol and Other Drug Problems on College Campuses,” has guidelines for colleges and universities to help them create effective policies for their campus environments. Included in the publication is a sample policy from the University of Michigan. Appendix #4, Alcohol and Other Drug Policy Checklist for Schools is taken from the Higher Education Center publication.
SB 2 Classroom curricula that develops good interpersonal skills and social competence.
Recent studies indicate that curricula emphasizing the harm caused by substance abuse and countering perceptions that youthful substance abuse is universal can reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug use. Some educational curricula that focuses on life skills and other normative objectives rather than “neutral” information about drugs can also reinforce attitudes opposing substance use among youth.
Generic “life skills” include problem-solving, decision-making, resistance skills against adverse peer influences, and social and communication skills. Most of these programs are designed as general substance abuse prevention programs and although some have demonstrated some success in preventing or reducing underage drinking, others have been more successful in preventing smoking and other drug use.
- Life Skills Training (LST) (universal)
LST teaches students various skills to resist social influences to use alcohol and other drugs and to enhance general competence and self-esteem. LST has been found to increase students’ knowledge of the negative consequences of drinking and to promote realistic, not inflated, perceptions of drinking prevalence. A study of LST’s long-term effects among 12th grade students who had received a relatively complete version of the program showed significantly lower rates of weekly drinking, heavy drinking, and getting impaired than did control students. The full sample exposed to the program showed significantly lower rates of drunkenness than did the controls.
Life Skills Training has been extensively studied over the past 16 years. Results indicate that this prevention approach can produce a 59- to 75-percent lower levels of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use. Long-term follow-up data from a randomized field trail involving nearly 6,000 students from 56 schools found significantly lower smoking, alcohol, and marijuana use six years after the initial baseline assessment.
The Save Our Youth Coalition in Salt Lake City, Utah peer leadership teams utilize the Life Skills Training model to train team members so they reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors for themselves and others. Save Our Youth has supported the peer leadership teams through mini-grants that target underage drinking.
- SMART Moves, the national prevention program of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (selective)
SMART Moves is a good example of a selective program since it is intended for implementation within Boys & Girls Clubs. The program utilizes a curriculum-based model that uses role playing, group activities, and discussion to promote social norms regarding substance use, and knowledge of the health consequences and prevalence of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use by youth and adults.
Results from the self-report questionnaire showed overall effectiveness of the SMART Moves prevention program. Overall use of drugs, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol was significantly less for individuals participating in the program.
SB 3 The community (including parents) and schools working together
- Project STAR (universal)
This program involves schools, mass media, parents, community organizations and health policy components and attempts to delay the onset and decrease the prevalence of alcohol and other drug use among students, beginning in sixth grade. Project STAR teaches skills to reduce alcohol use and educates students about the actual, as opposed to the perceived, prevalence of alcohol use among their peers. Early follow up studies showed that the program had little effect on alcohol use. A six-year follow-up study in Kansas City, however, showed lower rates of increase in alcohol use and episodes of drunkenness for students in the program over time than did students in control schools. Similar, but smaller, effects were observed at three and one-half year follow up in Indianapolis.
- Project Northland, Minnesota (universal)
This is a multi-component, school- and community-based intervention to delay, prevent and reduce alcohol use and related problems among adolescents. It includes social-behavioral curricula, peer leadership, parental involvement/education, and community-wide task force activities. The first three years of intervention, conducted in grades six through eight, resulted in significantly lower prevalence of past-month and past-week alcohol use among students in intervention communities compared with controls. These beneficial effects were particularly notable among students who had not yet begun experimenting with alcohol when the program began.
- Contact parents (indicated)
As part of their controlled dispersal strategy, the Montgomery County, Maryland police department call the parents of any youth cited at an underage drinking party and ask them come pick up their child. Letters to parents of college/university students caught in violation of alcohol laws can also be effective, especially when the parents are paying the tuition.
SB 4 Positive behavior management.
- Health Promotion Program, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana (universal)
The Health Promotion Program in the Student Health Center at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, conducts a comprehensive program that integrates a number of components into an organized campus-wide initiative. The overall goal of the program is to redefine drug and alcohol norms on campus.
Health Promotion Center staff teach courses and provide internships based on surveys of the university’s students. Awareness campaigns are conducted in collaboration with other campus groups and most are combined with existing campus activities such as sporting or club events. Environmental strategies are infused into the daily operations of the university, including the development in 1994 of an Events Management Team which works at sporting events to make alcohol-related interventions.
The Health Promotion Staff is involved in training residence hall staff and collaborates with several campus-wide committees on enforcement. Alcohol-free dormitories also allow students to live and study in an alcohol-free environment and provide positive reinforcement for the decision not to drink.
Since the inception of the Events Management Team, the university reports a significant drop in the severity and number of alcohol-related problems at sporting events. As an outcome of the training provided to residence hall staff, hundreds of students have been referred to the campus early intervention program, known as Insight.
- Bry’s Behavioral Monitoring and Reinforcement Program (selective)
This program is a school-based, early intervention program that targets seventh and eighth graders. The program collects up-to-date information on each student’s actions from teachers, provides systematic feedback in the form of report cards, and attaches a value to the student’s actions, such as a point for every day they arrive at school on time.
- Reconnecting Youth Program, Washington State (indicated)
Reconnecting Youth is a school-based indicated prevention program that targets young people in grades 9 through 12 who show signs of poor school achievement and potential for dropping out of high school. They also may show signs of multiple problem behaviors (such as substance abuse and depression). The program teaches skills to build resiliency with respect to risk factors and to moderate the early signs of substance abuse.
To enter the program, students must have fewer than the average number of credits earned for their grade level, have high absenteeism, and show a significant drop in grades. Or a youth may enter the program if he or she has a record of dropping out or ha¬ been referred as a significant dropout risk. The program incorporates social support and life skills training with a personal growth class, social activities and school bonding, and a school system crisis response plan.
SB 5 Accurate information on the role(s) of alcohol in life.
- Media education or media literacy programs (universal)
Programs to help youth filter the messages about alcohol (and other drugs) embedded in advertising and other media are increasingly popular. These programs teach youth to understand how images, words and feelings are manipulated to create specific attitudes in consumers and to foster the desire to purchase products. These courses may be taught in schools or provided through prevention groups, youth clubs or religious institutions. Information on media literacy is available in the Community How to Guide on Media Relations.
- Social marketing programs (universal)
Social marketing utilizes distinctive techniques adapted from commercial marketing to popularize positive ideas and attitudes and to encourage favorable changes in social values and individual behavior. One way this has been used is in publicizing results of surveys that found most college students overestimate how much their peers on campus are drinking. When correct information about drinking on campus was disseminated, the estimates and the self-reported actual rate of drinking dropped.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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