Messaging is powerful and has impact that is not always noticeable at first. A dangerous thing is when people attempt to take serious things like substance use and attempt to make a joke about it. Especially as it relates to children/youth substance use. Not sure how many of you watched this last week’s Saturday Night Live broadcast but one skit that was part of the program causes concern in the message that it is giving. Here is a link to that skit so that you can see what I am talking about: https://youtu.be/EGyTXmKpVlw
Underage drinking, especially when it comes to children, should never be used in any joking situation. In our county, alcohol use is still the main substance of use for our youth and messages like this attempt to lighten the seriousness of underage use and make that behavior normal. It has the impact of decreasing the perception of harm not only in the minds of adults but also in any youth/children that are also watching it. And there is also the possibility of some individuals looking past this being a “fun” video and actually following this behavior due to the stress they are experiencing due to our current situations.
Consider for a moment these consequences that youth have a higher chance of experiencing with alcohol use:
* School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
* Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
* Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
* Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
* Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
* Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
* Physical and sexual assault.
* Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
* Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
* Memory problems.
* Misuse of other drugs.
* Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
* Death from alcohol poisoning.
I would encourage each of us to join in with others in our county who are part of prevention efforts in sending a message to NBC and SNL that this is not acceptable. You can provide feedback by using this link. We may question the power of our own voice but when joined with others it can have a strong impact in sending the right message.
Above the Influence Coalition
308 E 13th St.
Vinton, Iowa 52349