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The Risk is Real

Bronx Times

A Throggs Neck organization dedicated to preventing teen drinking and drug use has launched a website to help parents talk to their teens about the harmful effects.

The website, theriskisreal.org, was developed as part of a grant given to the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership and 10 others similar groups by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

It was developed specifically for the Throggs Neck area based on a survey of parents and teenagers by TNCAP in 2011, said Fran Maturo, executive director of the Archdiocese of New York Drug Abuse Prevention Program, sponsor of TNCAP.

“We are often led to believe that underage drinking is a right of passage,” said Maturo, “but research shows that youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to have alcohol dependency.”

Maturo said the goal of “The Risk is Real” campaign, which also includes posters in local schools, churches, and businesses, is to encourage parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of teen drinking and act as role models.

“We want parents to talk to their teens early and often, and this campaign helps parents learn the risks and how to avoid them,” she said.

The web site includes a mix of videos and narratives from teens and parents, with helpful hints for parents on how to best to approach their adolescents.

“They are hearing from real parents about what they observe in their children,” said Maturo. “There are also conversation starters that go along with the video that parents can use as a guide. Sometimes parents may be interested in watching a video on the site with their own children, and they can use it that way.”

The website features links to social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and plenty of videos that feature real parents who were in the dark about drinking and drug abuse of their teens.

The social marketing campaign was developed by the instructional media company “Connect with Kids.”

Maturo said that ADAPP/TNCAP may follow up with another survey in the coming months to determine the effectiveness of “The Risk is Real” campaign.

She said it was a big step forward for TNCAP, founded in 1998.

Janet Bliss, the organization’s coordinator of community programs, said ADDAP/TNCAP’s 2011 survey found:

•Drinking increases from 9th grade at 22% to 11th grade at 51%of teens drinking alcohol.

•The majority of 11th grade youth surveyed said they did not think their parents saw their drinking as a problem.

“This is just unacceptable,” said Bliss. “Our goal is to educate parents and teens about what really happens as a result of youth drinking, and teach them to ‘think before they take a drink.’”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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