The beginning of the 2016-2017 school year is weeks away, and every new beginning brings hope for what is to come. Gordie Bailey began his freshman year with so many of those hopes: to excel in his classes, to make the club lacrosse team, to fit in with a group of friends, and to enjoy the beauty of Colorado. Those hopes were cut well short when Gordie died from alcohol overdose during a hazing event less than 30 days into his college career. What are your hopes and goals for the year? For administrators, the first few weeks are vital for supporting students going through transition and implementing new initiatives. For parents, this is an important time to talk with your children about expectations regarding their choices. Alcohol use and hazing should be priority topics for discussion and programming.
Parent Tips for Talking About Alcohol
The decisions students make about alcohol use and hazing can have a powerful impact on their lives, and parents can have a tremendous influence on those decisions. Here are a few suggestions on how parents can continue to support students in making healthy choices even when they may be far from home:
  • Initiate conversations about alcohol choices and make your expectations clear. Parental expectations do have an impact on student drinking behaviors, both positively and negatively. If your child is heading away to college for the first time, conversations that take place before move-in day have the greatest impact. Plan to have a follow-up conversation (or two!) to check in.
  • Know that most parents do have these conversations. A national study found that three-quarters of parents say they discussed family rules about alcohol use with their daughters and sons in the previous three months.
  • Avoid scare tactics. Be factual and straightforward about your family beliefs and your concern about the choices your daughter or son may be facing. Ninety percent of young adults say the way to reach them is to focus more on health and safety issues than on legal consequences.
  • Learn what "normal" drinking is like at your child's school. Many parents and students overestimate the extent of heavy drinking on campus. Providing students with accurate information on peer drinking levels has been shown to reduce heavy drinking.  Nationally, most students make low-risk decisions about alcohol, and believe it is their responsibility to intervene when they notice a problem situation.
  • Treat addiction as you would any other health issue. Those with a family history of substance abuse are four times more likely to develop a problem. Students need to be aware of their potential genetic risk so they can make more informed choices about alcohol use.
National Hazing Prevention Week: September 19 - 23, 2016
Join colleges and universities, high schools, and communities nationwide for National Hazing Prevention Week (NHPW) in September. HazingPrevention.Org organizes NHPW and offers free resource guides for high schools and colleges to plan events and activities for NHPW, as well as products to support your efforts.
National GORDIEday is included in NHPW on September 22, 2016, and the Gordie Center website offers many free tools to help you host a GORDIEday event, including our 2016 Planning Guide, downloadable teaser campaign and Pledge to Check form, and a PowerPoint presentation about Gordie's story. If you plan to host a GORDIEday event, we are happy to provide a 20% discount on Gordie Center products (the documentary HAZE as well as our GORDIEcheck BAC cards, posters, magnets, and mirror clings) for GORDIEday participants--simply register on our website to let us know you plan to participate. We love to hear about your events, so please plan to send us pictures and recaps of your GORDIEdays!
A new academic year brings a lot of hope: our greatest hope at the Gordie Center is that this year passes without a death due to alcohol overdose or hazing. Even one death is too many. Please join us in making that hope a reality!

Until next month,

Susie Bruce,  Director, Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Jill Maurer, National Development & Program Coordinator
 
Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
gordiecenter@virginia.edu | www.gordie.org
 


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