Boston, Mass. — In an unprecedented move to help prevent alcohol-related motor vehicle crash deaths and other tragedies during this season of after-prom and after-graduation parties, Milton High School is partnering with the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (CeASAR) at Children’s Hospital Boston to encourage parents of graduating seniors to take an online course entitled “Fifteen Minutes to Save Your Teen’s Life.” The course is part of www.teen-safe.org, a new web site from Children’s to engage and educate parents about how they can help their children stay healthy and alcohol- and drug-free. Accidents, homicides, and suicides account for greater that 70% of all deaths among U.S. teens, and all three are strongly associated with alcohol and drug use.
A graph from the 15-minute educational course available at www.teen-safe.org
“Parents are the best and first line of defense in protecting their children from the dangers of alcohol and drugs,” says John Knight, MD, director and founder of CeASAR. “Graduation and prom are times for celebration and a critical time for parents to be vigilant about their child’s safety. We are grateful for the leadership and vision of the Milton High School administrators for helping us with this pilot program, which we hope will become the standard practice of schools across Massachusetts.”
This week, parents of seniors at Milton High School will receive a letter from the Principal, Dr. John Drottar, and an email from the Superintendant of Schools, Mary Gormley, encouraging them to take the online course now available at www.teen-safe.org. The course opens with a very moving personal story, which is followed by a 15-minute presentation that uses easy-to-understand scientific graphics, illustrating the reasons why teens should not drink. After taking the course and a brief quiz, parents will receive a certificate of completion that their teen will be asked to bring to the school as part of their ‘check-out’ process prior to graduation.
“As educators we have a special responsibility to help guard the safety of our students,” adds Superintendent Gormley. “And one of the best ways for us to reach our students is by engaging their parents.”
“We hope all parents will watch this presentation to help spur conversations with their sons and daughters about the health risks associated with underage drinking,” says Principal Drotter.
Alcohol and alcohol-related injuries are the leading cause of death among teenagers. Yet national surveys show one forth of all parents are provide alcohol to their teenage children to drink with friends. Many believe that they can protect their teens by taking away their car keys and allowing them to drink at home. However, teens still die, from drowning, falls, alcohol poisoning, or choking on vomit while passed out.
“The adolescent brain responds differently to alcohol, which places teens at much higher risk for loss of life, or having a problem that destroys their future,” adds Sion Harris, PhD, leader of the CeASAR Neuroscience Team. “In addition, exposing the brain to alcohol, marijuana, or another drug while it is still developing, changes the brain forever.”
The presentation is available all who visit the site. “Parents who have children between the ages of 12 and 18 are encouraged to visit the site and watch the presentation. Being informed of the dangerous effects of alcohol and drugs is the ultimate way of ensuring your child’s safety,” says Celeste Wilson, MD, of CeASAR and the Children’s Hospital Child Protection Program.
In addition to the online presentation, www.teen-safe.org features a video series in which Dr. Knight answers frequently asked questions from parents. It will also include a special message from the parents of Ryan Whitney, a Milton teenager who tragically died 12 years ago by falling into Lyon’s Quarry’s where he and friends had gone to drink. The website is dedicated to Ryan’s memory. Financial support for Teen Safe was provided by the Ryan Whitney Memorial Fund at Children’s Hospital Trust. The site is freely available to all schools and parents everywhere.
Children’s Hospital Boston
Children’s Hospital Boston is home to the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 members of the Institute of Medicine and 12 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children’s research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children’s Hospital Boston today is a 396-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children’s also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about the hospital and its research visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.