Opinion: Youth & Alcohol

The Message of Alcohol Awareness Month

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. –Henry Ford

Brown Forman has a longstanding history of responsibility and is a founding member of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org), a not-for-profit dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking. April is Alcohol Awareness Month in the United States, a time for Responsibility.org, our funders, our partners, and other stakeholders to work together to remind Americans to make responsible decisions about alcohol.

It is well known that parents wield the greatest influence over their kid’s decision to drink – or not to drink – alcohol. Hearing a responsibility message from a trusted source has a greater impact. This year, Responsibility.org aimed to start one million conversations about alcohol throughout April – among parents and kids, teachers and students, colleagues, friends, and even elected officials and the public. We provided a “30 Days of Social Media” guide and an infographic, and we asked our partners to distribute responsibility messages via social media.

Throughout Alcohol Awareness Month, we learned that we had to think more broadly about the nature of these conversations, to not only think about who was having the conversations, but also to think about how they were conversing. In the end it mattered less about the specific nature of the conversation (there’s more than one way to talk about it) and more about how many conversations got someone thinking about their own consumption or that of others.

This means utilizing many platforms – for example, spoken, written word, or cyber word. By breaking out of traditional platforms into “new conversation platforms”, we were able to be more impactful.

Conversations in April

Over a thousand people used the #JoinTheConvo hashtag on Twitter, including Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, Godfrey the Comedian, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, US Gold Medal Gymnast Aly Raisman, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, USA.gov, and many other impactful partners. We experienced similar engagement on Facebook throughout the entire month via “likes” and comments, and our Pinterest page also received many repins.

Education publisher Scholastic helped us reach classrooms across the country to remind middle school students and teachers to “say YES to a healthy lifestyle and NO to underage drinking”. To further spread this message, Gold Medal Gymnast (and Dancing With the Stars contestant) Aly Raisman and her mother, Lynn, appeared in national media outlets on behalf of our initiative Ask Listen Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix.

Dr. Anthony Wolf, a clinical psychologist and best-selling author, hosted a webinar to advise parents of teens about how to have an effective conversation about underage drinking. Read what Dr. Wolf had to say via the following blogs: Teach Mama, The Centsible Life, and Scraps of my Greek Life. With over 200 media-savvy parents participating, wehosted a “Twitter party” using the hashtag #TalkEarly, which Trended nationally and earned over 7 million impressions. Targeting a college-aged audience, Shaquille O’Neal and Godfrey teamed up to remind students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to #WatchYourself with regard to college binge drinking. See their videos here.

During Alcohol Awareness Month, Responsibility.org re-launched B4Udrink, which offers the most accurate Blood Alcohol Calculator publicly available. We continued our work with judges and prosecutors to fight drunk driving, and we reminded the public to make smart decisions about alcohol.

While different organizations might use different tactics, the end goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is always the same – improving the way parents and kids talk about underage drinking and keeping drunk drivers off of our nation’s roadways. Eradicating drunk driving and underage drinking requires that all stakeholders work together, and Responsibility.org was proud to lead that effort in April, and throughout the rest of the year.

Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is dangerous, not only because of the risks associated with acute impairment, but also because of the threat to long-term development.

Alcohol & Academics: How Drinking Can Affect Academic Success

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