As we think about and have conversations regarding youth alcohol and other drug abuse, we cannot have a clear idea of the scope of the issue without looking at all of the variables that affect young people today. The best illustration is to imagine a frog getting sick as he sits in his pond. Now, our first task would be to take the frog and examine him closely. Is he taking care of himself the best he can? Eating well? Getting enough rest? Does he have all the information he can to keep himself away from things that can do him harm? How can that frog get better educated? The next step would be to look at the pond that he is sitting in. Are there toxins in the pond? Is he surrounded by pollution, poor water quality or a lack of food? Finding what is making the frog sick probably does not have one answer, but is part of a complex web of solutions all coming together to do their part to create a healthy frog.
One reason for the complexity in finding a solution to youth alcohol and other drug use and abuse is that it is not one solution, but a complex web that has to all work together in a community for success. The community as a whole needs to believe that each piece will indeed serve its role to create success.
LCAT works to serve youth by helping to strengthen curriculum, develop youth leadership skills and provide opportunities for community involvement. LCAT works to strengthen “the pond” by educating parents, working to connect adults with youth, providing a way for neighborhoods to gather and get to know each other, supporting law enforcement efforts, and supporting legislation that looks at our Wisconsin Alcohol Culture and realizes the negative effects on young people some of our social norms have. According to the Surgeon’s General National Prevention Strategy Report in 2011, “ Exposure to alcohol marketing may increase the likelihood that young people will start drinking or drink more; therefore reducing youth exposure to alcohol marketing can change attitudes toward drinking." Studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, or if already drinking, drink more.
No one solution will solve the issue. But by working as a community and putting each piece together we will create an environment, a safe pond, where youth flourish. On February 11th at 6:30 PM is a Public Hearing at City Hall on an ordinance to reduce some of the banners and exterior signs youth see every day that advertise alcohol and tobacco products. Will less advertisement solve youth using alcohol and drugs? Not alone, no it won’t. But as a piece of the whole, removing some of the ads will work to decrease exposure to alcohol. As citizens of Lodi you can attend the public hearing and represent a culture that will benefit the youth today and in the future.
To view a recent news story on this ordinance, please click here to visit the NBC 15 website.