Family dinners keep?kids on the right path

Eating dinner and underage drinking don't have anything in common. Or do they? More than a decade of research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. Because of this research, CASA designated the last Monday of every September as "Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children." Join the nation on Sept. 24 and eat dinner as a family.

Teens who have frequent family dinners spend more time with their parents overall. Compared to teens who spend 21 hours or more per week with their parents, teens spending seven hours or less are twice as likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to say they expect to try drugs in the future.

Family Day is a national movement launched by CASA Columbia in 2001 to remind parents that frequent family dinners make a difference. Family Day promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children's risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. What began as a small grass-roots initiative has grown to become a nationwide celebration that is expected to once again be proclaimed and supported by the president, all 50 U.S. governors and the mayors and executives of more than 1,000 cities and counties.

For more information on the impact of underage drinking and local efforts to combat the effects, check out Px20 is a collaboration of Erie County agencies dedicated to preventing substance abuse and promoting mental and physical health. The agencies work together to maximize their limited resources to make an impact on problems that affect local communities, like underage drinking, prescription drug abuse and impaired driving.

Erica J. Boyce

Public Educator, Erie County

Council for the Prevention of

Alcohol and Substance Abuse