RALEIGH – While North Carolina students are preparing to head back to school, the state’s ABC Commission announced that it is launching the second phase of its “Talk It Out” anti-underage drinking campaign. Using insights gained from polling data, the campaign emphasizes the role of parental responsibility in reducing underage drinking.
“Talking about underage drinking with your child is not comfortable or easy, but it is necessary,” said NC ABC Commission Chairman Jim Gardner. “One of the most disturbing findings in our most recent round of research is that many parents acknowledge that underage drinking is a problem in North Carolina, but they aren’t concerned about their own children drinking underage. This is a dangerous disconnect with potentially devastating consequences for our state’s families and young people. Denying what our children are clearly telling us does not make the problem go away.”
The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the issue in North Carolina and to educate and empower parents to talk with their children about underage drinking. Campaign officials say that a series of frank TV and radio ads drives home the message that these are not conversations parents can afford to put off. It is paid for by fees paid by liquor wholesalers to the ABC Commission.
Luther Snyder, executive director of the NC Initiative to Reduce Underage Drinking, says that the campaign had a $1.2 million media budget in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. This year, Snyder expects to spend $2.6 million on advertising, with a huge emphasis on digital. He says the campaign is bearing fruit.
“We’ve had great success in convincing parents to talk to their kids about underage drinking,” said Snyder. “Our research shows that 50 percent of parents recalled TV ads from the campaign. We’re reaching a lot of parents around the state.”
Based on recent surveys of 500 parents of middle and high school students and 300 students in middle and high school showed that 87 percent of parents see underage drinking as a community problem, but only 59 percent are concerned about their own children drinking underage. The 2015 surveys also shows the vast majority (94 percent) of North Carolina’s youth say underage drinking is a problem, 54 percent of whom think it’s a big problem, but only 44 percent of parents think it’s a serious problem. But a comparison of the 2014 and 2015 surveys shows that gap is starting to shrink.
“A lot of the kids say that your kids want you to talk to them about underage drinking,” Snyder says. “Our research shows that you’re the most influential person in your child‘s life. They want to hear from you.”