Interactive campaign targets tween drinking

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by Sybil Hoffman

azfamily.com

Posted on December 9, 2011 at 9:55 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 9 at 10:41 PM

PHOENIX -- Underage drinking is no longer just a trend in high school. Junior high is where the experimenting with alcohol begins. Now there is one program specifically targeting tweens.

The seventh-graders at Centennial Middle School in Phoenix are getting schooled about underage drinking.

"The whole thing that we're trying to do today is reach kids in the way that they learn now through interactive programs that also have an online component," explained Dana Fudurich with the Century Council.

Studies show kids start experimenting with alcohol years before high school. A third will try it before they get to eighth grade.

"Kids our age are tempted to do what their friends do all the time," seventh-grader Tristian Flores said.

That is why Attorney General Tom Horne wanted to help launch the "Ask, Listen, Learn" program.

"If you just assume kids know what they should do and what they shouldn't do, you'd be surprised, they may not know," Horne said.

Centennial Middle School is the first in Arizona to adopt the interactive curriculum campaign. The game teaches kids about the dangers of alcohol.

"The later you can delay the onset of the first drink, the less likely they are to have problem drinking patterns later on in life," Fudurich said.

The seventh-graders admit they'll think twice about drinking.

"First of all, it will make you unpretty and all that stuff, because you get bags under your eyes and you get all hungover and all that stuff after," Taylor Woodward said.

"There are kids at school that drink and stuff and I just think it's nasty and wrong," Kimaya Mims said.

"I will for surely not do it until I'm 21 years or older," Luke Cernetic said.

The goal is not only to deter drinking but give kids the confidence to stand up against peer pressure.

"If they're your real friends, then they shouldn't peer pressure you," Ally Trevino pointed out.

Fudurich said the reality is "it's everywhere, it's pervasive, whether your child is doing it or not, they are certainly confronted by those kids who are."

For more information about Ask, Listen, Learn, visit check out www.asklistenlearn.com.

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