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Eason Ramson speaking to Boys & Girls' Club members.

If you find it difficult to believe that a child in elementary, middle, junior high or high school is old enough to be concerned about drugs and alcohol, then you're not alone. Drug and alcohol abuse are not only an adult problem but also affect a significant number of adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 20.

The factors that lead to addiction are rooted in childhood -- feelings of unworthiness and shame, anticipation of being rejected, the belief that no one will come through for you so you have to rely on yourself, and peer pressure.  The most common source of peer pressure is a child's desire to fit in with a specific group. Negative peer pressure makes it difficult for a child to make positive choices, even if they know the right thing to do.

The Facts

It's important to know:

  • New evidence shows that the use of alcohol can divert or suppress normal brain development: during teenage years.
  • The average age when youth first try alcohol is 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls.
  • More than 60 percent of teens said that drugs were sold, used, or kept at their school.
  • By age 14, 41 percent of children have had least one drink.
  • 20 percent of 8th graders report that they've tried marijuana.
  • The average age at which Americans begin drinking regularly is 15.9 years old.
  • 28 percent of teens know a classmate or friend who has used ecstasy.
  • Teens who begin drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
  • Approximately 15 percent of 10th and 12th graders have used amphetamines.
  • An early age of drinking onset is alsoassociated with alcohol-related violence not only among persons under age 21 but among adults as well.
  • An estimated 1.8 million (0.8 percent) of youth age 12 and older are current users of cocaine.
  • The three leading causes of death for 15 to 24-year-olds are automobile crashes, homicides and suicides -- alcohol is a leading factor in all three.
  • According to the Office of the Inspector General, researchers estimate that alcohol use is involved in one-third to two-thirds of sexual assaults and acquaintance or date rape cases among teens and college students.

Addressing the Problem

Part 1

All too often our youth are taught to "Just Say No" to drugs and alcohol but peer pressure can be a complicated issue with many different facets.  Children experience peer pressure every day-from their friends, family, classmates, and many others.  During our youth empowerment seminars, Pros and Cons for Kids provides youth with real life examples and consequences they will suffer from experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Part 2

Pros and Cons for Kids will empower youth with healthy decision making tools to assist them in successfully addressing peer pressure and build positive self esteem.  We believe that strong self-esteem supports a youth in making difficult decisions even when their friends don't agree that the choices they make are "cool."  Positive self-esteem is based on facts and truth and achievement and competencies.  It is the single most important psychological skill a youth can develop in order to thrive in society. Without self-esteem, youth doubt themselves, they cave in to peer pressure, they feel worthless and inferior, and may eventually turn to drugs or alcohol as a crutch. Self-esteem enables youth to feel more secure within themselves, helps them be more willing to take positive risks, and assists them in taking responsibility for their own actions.  It also supports them in coping with life's changes and challenges and ultimately to be more resilient in the face of rejection, disappointment, failure and defeat.  Self-esteem isn't something we're born with but it is something we can learn.

Pros And Cons For Kids can help empower your child to say, "No" to drugs and alcohol in the REAL world.
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