“Alcohol is a drug; it’s the second most dangerous drug next to nicotine!” emphasized Brad Barton to an audience of approximately 400 in the Morgan High School auditorium on Tuesday, May 1 while levitating spinning cards in the air, shooting mini fire balls, and magically making a newspaper “whole” after shredding it in pieces.
Brad Barton has worked in the past with Weber Human Services educating youth about the dangers associated with substance abuse. Now he is a Certified Speaking Professional with the National Speaker’s Association and speaks to youth all over Utah and the nation empowering them to be their best, to treat others and their differences with respect, and to stay clear of alcohol and other drugs.
There are several key elements Barton wanted every parent to understand when talking about underage drinking.
First, the best deterrent for alcohol use/abuse is for parents and adults to monitor teen activities. Sometimes parents think it is OK to allow and provide alcohol in their home under their supervision.
• The illusion is: Parents think this will create responsible drinking.
• The reality is: Parents drinking with a teen inherently teaches disregard for the law and gives youth permission to drink in other settings. This leads to disrespect for parental authority and rules established within the home as well as school settings. In addition, family relationships are actually harmed when teens are allowed to consume alcohol with adult permission. Parents are not viewed as important supports when they provide their teens with alcohol. (Tapert, Tate, and Brown, 1999, NAS report).
Don’t underestimate the real “magic” parents have! Strong parental disapproval and consequences is the top deterrent for youth from becoming involved in alcohol. “If we keep kids away from the gateway drugs of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, we will keep kids away from the other drugs,” emphasized Barton. Knowing where your teens are, who they are with, and what they are doing is something every parent can do.
Second, a teenager’s brain is still developing.
• The illusion is: Teens think alcohol is different from drugs.
• The reality is: Alcohol is a type of drug causing similar addictions and physical harm. From the ages of 10-25 the brain goes through dramatic change and refinement. (Huttenlocker, 1979; Silveri and Spear, 2002). Researcher Aaron White at Duke Univeristy states, “Alcohol use in teens severely disrupts brain cells’ ability to establish long-lasting, heightened responsiveness to signals from other cells.” (Bliss and Collinridge 1993).
Following Barton’s presentation, families participated in “What Will I Do On My Summer Break?” The youth in particular had a blast visiting various booths and hands-on displays in the MHS commons area sponsored by local businesses and organizations that provide summer-time activities, camps, classes, and events for kids and families in our Morgan County community. Parents were able to visit each booth and sign up their kids for summer-time fun.
It is the mission of Morgan Empowered to coordinate family and community resources to empower our youth to become responsible and upright adults. We are grateful for outstanding community support and hope you will keep an eye out for additional activities sponsored by Morgan Empowered.
A special thanks to Brad Barton for helping Morgan Empowered make Morgan a place where parents and youth can influence one another in a positive way.