It's almost graduation time in the Yakima valley. It's an exciting time for students and parents but it's also a time many parents worry about kids drinking and using drugs.

A MAJOR MEDIA CAMPAIGN IS UNDERWAY AIMED AT PARENTS

Officials at Safe Yakima Valley have started a campaign to give parents and or caregivers tools to talk to kids about the danger and risks of underage drinking, substance use, and driving under the influence. They say the most important factor in helping kids develop is a strong, open relationship with parents.

YOU GOTTA TALK TO YOUR KIDS ASAP AND KEEP IT UP

In other words it's vitally important for parents to talk to kids about the "risks of alcohol and other drugs and your strong disapproval of youth consumption before they are exposed to them-as early as 7-8 years old and continuing these conversations until at least 18 years of age."

SOME KEY FACTS;

Only 5% of youth drink alcohol if their parents disapprove of it, while 28% drink if their parents don’t express disapproval.

· Conversations should be short and frequent!

· Conversations should be about the risks of youth substance use and the parents’ strong disapproval of youth substance use.

WHERE ARE THE YOUNG PEOPLE GETTING ALCOHOL?

· Over 70% of youth indicate they get their alcohol from an adult – we want to discourage any adults from providing alcohol to minors. Resist the temptations of graduation celebrations and do NOT supply underage children with alcohol or other substances. Parents, avoid the “right of passage” mentality.

A LOT OF PARENTS AREN'T TALKING TO KIDS

· Only 63% of youth in Yakima County stated that their parents or caregivers talked with them about not drinking alcohol – the % of youth who indicate their parents spoke with them about the risks of substance use decreases every year from 8th grade until 12th grade! Parents need to keep the conversations going until at least age 18! This is not a “one and done” topic.

FATALITY TRAFFIC DEATHS ARE ON THE RISE IN YAKIMA AND THE STATE

· Yakima County experienced a 23% increase in fatal crashes between 2020 and 2022.

· Yakima County is currently a priority community for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission due to the spike in traffic deaths.

NEVER STOP HAVING THOSE TALKS WITH KIDS

· Parents should continue to have conversations with their children into young adulthood and emphasize that when they enter the legal age to use substances (marijuana or alcohol), they should NEVER operate a vehicle or ride with an impaired driver. Start these conversations early (ages 7-8) and continue them into young adulthood.

Officials with Safe Yakima Valley say don’t Wait for the “Right” Time—It’s always a good time to talk to your kids about the dangers of impaired driving.

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