Outside of the hospital walls, Lurie Children's is working to prevent underage drinking.
Underage drinking, particularly consumption of alcohol by school age youth, is a serious concern for parents, schools and communities. Often overlooked, alcohol is the most commonly used drug by Illinois 8th to 12th grade students.1
At Lurie Children's, we are particularly troubled by the impact that alcohol has on youth. Not only does underage drinking interfere with overall health, it increases the risk for physical and sexual assault, injury and death. Prevention of underage drinking requires a community level approach.
Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens (PAACT) is a multi-agency coalition convened by Lurie Children's to reduce underage drinking and promote health and wellness by engaging Chicago's communities and youth in prevention strategies that work.
Communications Campaign: I got this! is PAACT's city-wide communication and community engagement campaign to prevent underage drinking in 8th–10th grade youth in Chicago. The campaign focuses on youth and their parents/guardians. I got this! is grounded in data from the Illinois Youth Survey showing that the vast majority of youth are not drinking alcohol, and that the majority of their parents are talking with them—and setting rules—about not drinking. In other words: they're already doing the right thing. By elevating and celebrating what youth and their parents/guardians are already doing, I got this! will encourage these behaviors to be even more broadly used and consistently applied, and will bolster resilience in youth that can prevent or reduce underage alcohol use over time.
School Policy: PAACT is also working to improve Chicago Public School (CPS) policies around alcohol and substance use. The goal of PAACT's school policy effort is to bring school substance use policies in alignment with recent reforms to reduce the use of punitive measures, such as suspension and expulsion, in favor of more holistic responses that keep students in school while addressing their social and emotional needs. PAACT's school policy strategy also includes providing guidance and resources to CPS on how to connect youth to intervention, treatment, and other support services.
Community and Youth Engagement: PAACT works with community-based organizations, health care and mental health providers, advocates, researchers, and others to share strategies that are working and develop promising new ones. PAACT partnered with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) to conduct a youth-led study to help inform policy change around underage drinking in CPS.
Rachel Foote, MPH
Manager, Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens (PAACT)
See also: Preventing Violence