As kids across the nation return to school, the Federal Trade Commission is launching the 2010 “We Don’t Serve Teens” consumer education campaign, which warns of the hazards of underage drinking. The FTC and a coalition of private and other public groups are distributing education materials that combat illegal underage drinking.
“The FTC believes that kids need to hear their parents’ concerns about underage drinking,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about 5,000 kids die due to alcohol-related injuries every year. “Our message is, ‘Talk to your kids about underage drinking. Sooner is better than later.’ ”
The “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign was developed by the FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency. Program materials are free, and include adhesive signs, an article, radio public service announcements, and the program website, DontServeTeens.gov. The FTC encourages members of the public to distribute these materials widely.
This year’s campaign article, Middle School: It’s Not Too Early to Talk to Kids About Underage Drinking, notes that while parents of middle school children may think it’s too early to worry about underage drinking, statistics show that about 10 percent of 12-year-olds say they’ve tried alcohol. By age 15, that number jumps to 50 percent. The article advises parents to talk early, talk often, and get others involved to protect kids from alcohol-related injury:
Talk early. Kids who drink are more likely to engage in risky behavior. The reason most children choose not to drink is because their parents talk to them about it. The sooner you start, the greater chance you have of influencing their decisions about drinking.
Talk often. One conversation isn’t enough to give kids the information and guidance they need about alcohol. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children who regularly talk to their parents about alcohol are less likely to drink. Try using everyday opportunities to talk – in the car, during dinner, or while you and your child are watching TV.
Get others involved. Most kids who drink alcohol don’t pay for it. Instead, they get it from older friends and family members, at parties, or from your liquor cabinet. So let the people around you know that you don’t want your kids to have access to alcohol. And let your children know that the alcohol in your home is strictly off-limits.
“We Don’t Serve Teens” partners are distributing adhesive signs in communities nationwide. Available in English and Spanish, the signs have two messages. The first is, “Please don’t provide alcohol to teens. It’s unsafe. It’s illegal. It’s irresponsible.” The other is, “The legal drinking age is 21. Thanks for not providing alcohol to teens.” The FTC encourages radio stations to run the public service announcements, which are available at the DontServeTeens.gov website.
Organizations helping to distribute “We Don’t Serve Teens” signs include alcohol industry members, state alcohol regulatory agencies, state and local law enforcement, high schools and colleges, and social services organizations.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
Bureau of Consumer Protection