Purpose of Practice
The objective of ParentsEmpowered.org is to eliminate underage drinking in Utah by raising public awareness and educating parents and communities about the negative consequences and lifelong implications of underage drinking. ParentsEmpowered.org is achieving this via a statewide professional media campaign. More than simply raising awareness, the campaign provides skills, tools, and information needed to help strengthen families and engage communities to take action to help prevent underage drinking.
Description of Practice
ParentsEmpowered.org is a comprehensive statewide, state-sponsored, underage drinking prevention campaign launched in September 2006. Elements of the campaign include: Professional media campaign: • Paid traditional media - television, radio, internet, and print. • Non-traditional media - Employer-to-employee campaign, garbage truck advertising, statewide school curriculum and materials distribution, campaign promotional collateral items, etc. NABCA sponsored Education Award Program helped fund: - Liquor delivery semi-truck mobile billboards. - Liquor store “Not until 21” neon signs. - Teen silhouettes with “message bubbles” in state liquor stores. - “Do not drink until properly aged” printed liquor bags. - Prevention message bottleneck hangers in liquor stores. - Banner print ads for public events. • Earned media - press releases, press conferences, local television and radio news shows, newspaper inserts and articles, etc. • Partnerships with local businesses, state/local leaders, and local area prevention coordinators. • www.ParentsEmpowered.org - comprehensive interactive website The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is the lead agency responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the ParentsEmpowered.org campaign and is the fiscal agent for monies allocated by the Utah Legislature. A formal underage drinking prevention workgroup, under the auspices of the Governor’s Substance Abuse Coordinating Council, is tasked with implementing and overseeing the direction of the campaign. Members of the workgroup include: • Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control • Utah Substance Abuse Coordinating Council • The Utah Office of The First Lady • Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health • Utah State Office of Education/Safe and Drug Free Schools • Utah Attorney General’s Office • Utah Chapter/Mothers Against Drunk Driving • Utah Parent Teachers Association • Utah Council for Crime Prevention • Utah Juvenile Courts • Utah Department of Health • Utah Department of Public Safety Community involvement: • Statewide local town hall meetings • School events and presentations • State and local community health, prevention, and safety events. • Mini grants provided to all local area community prevention networks. “Total community mobilization” Eliminating underage drinking in Utah can be a difficult task for parents to face alone. ParentsEmpowered.org is creating a community network that supports parents and one that is working to change existing community norms, from a harmless “rite of passage” to establishing underage drinking as a serious threat to adolescent development and health.
Success or Improvements
By educating parents about the lasting harms of underage drinking and providing them with proven skills, tools, and information needed to prevent it, Utah’s campaign is demonstrating significant results. Impact on underage drinking - The most important results about Utah’s ability to decrease underage drinking are seen in the statewide 2009 SHARP (Student Health and Risk Prevention) survey: Compared against results from the 2007 SHARP survey, in 2009, underage drinking in Utah is down approximately 4% across the board. In terms of actual children, an average 4% reduction across the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades (and extrapolated for 7th, 9th, and 11th grades) means that roughly: • 11,260 fewer Utah children have reported ever trying alcohol in their lifetime. • 5,520 fewer teens have used alcohol in the past thirty days. • 2,600 fewer underage binge/heavy drinkers in Utah. According to a 2008 national survey, released by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, found the number of teens in grades 9 through 12 who reported drinking alcohol in the last month rose 11% last year. These numbers, help to render Utah’s decrease in underage drinking, as significant. Challenges and work to be done - One of the most difficult audiences to reach are parents who believe that underage drinking is OK, as long as it takes place in their own home. Many parents are even supplying the alcohol. Utah’s 2009 SHARP survey identifies: • Approximately 30% of the underage drinkers obtained their alcohol from home with their parents’ permission. • Approximately 30% of the underage drinkers also consumed alcohol at home with their parents’ permission. Research shows with the slightest degree of perceived parental tolerance, underage drinking substantially increases the likelihood of their child using alcohol. Having parents who strongly disapprove of underage alcohol use is a critical message ParentsEmpowered.org will continue to covey. Bonding, boundaries, and monitoring are key parental components of the “skills” campaign strategy, however: • 91% of parents agree that monitoring their kids could prevent underage drinking, but only 36% said it was very likely they would monitor.
Evaluation of the Practice
The ParentsEmpowered.org campaign has a comprehensive array of measurement tools in place to evaluate the campaign’s success, including: • Baseline, midpoints and year-end independent evaluations • Ongoing journal studies • Utah’s Student Health and Risk Prevention Surveys • Online surveys; and • Website traffic data
Independent campaign evaluation surveys have been executed throughout the campaign’s duration, September 2006 to present. The most recent Dan Jones and Associates’ surveys report that: • 42% of all Utah parents now know the specific ParentsEmpowered.org brand. • 60% are now aware of an underage drinking prevention campaign “empowering parents.” • 74% of Utah parents now can recall advertising about the dangers of underage drinking. • 73% now can recall ads about the parental skills that keep kids alcohol-free. • 65% of parents generally agree their child could be exposed to alcohol. Awareness is up. • 57% of parents had set or reviewed no underage drinking rules, at least 2-3 times over the past three months. • 140,000 more parents now know they are the key to preventing underage drinking.
Name: Doug Murakami, Alcohol Education Director
Agency: Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
Address: 1625 South 900 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84104