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MOUNTAIN BROOK, Alabama -- Mountain Brook Schools are tackling the issues of underage drinking and substance abuse head on, as part of their 'Hitting Home' series beginning this November. For the third year in a row, several schools across the city will host a series of meetings for parents and students on youth issues, alcohol use and substance abuse prevention.

"Our hope is that parents will learn about the status of underage drinking and substance abuse among the youth in our community, what the schools are doing to try to address the problem, and what parents can do to prevent substance abuse in their own children," Superintendent Dickey Barlow said.

A main part of the presentations will focus on educating parents about the extent of the problem. This year's Pride Survey results, which measured the amount of substance abuse and the prevalence of alcohol use among Mountain Brook students, will help achieve that.

According to the results, Mountain Brook's twelfth-graders are more likely to consume beer, liquor and marijuana at a rate slightly higher than the national average. This year, 63 percent of seniors reported that they had consumed beer one or more times in the past year, compared to the national average of 52 percent.

Typically, the majority of high school students report that they consume alcohol at a friend's house during the weekends. Among last year's seniors, 51 percent of the graduating class said they had engaged in binge drinking at least once, while 23 percent sad they have driven when drinking.

Overall, the statistics fare better than in previous years. Beer and liquor consumption, for example, has been steadily declining through the years. Among Mountain Brook seniors, the amount who reported that they had consumed beer in the last month has fallen from 57 percent in 2008, to 42 percent in 2012. The survey also found however, that when compared to last year, beer consumption among Mountain Brook's juniors and seniors had slightly risen.

Among the same group of Mountain Brook students, liquor is consumed at a rate higher than the national average: 35 percent of juniors report consuming liquor in the past month, compared to 27 percent nationally; 42 percent of seniors report the same, compared to 32 percent nationally.

Those numbers do not sit well with school administration officials, who aim to find a solution.

"Like all communities, we have problems with alcohol and substance abuse," said Dale Wisely, director of student services for Mountain Brook schools. "We want to empower parents and remind them that they have more control than they think."

Specific parenting practices, said Wisely, will play a crucial role in alleviating the problem. According to the survey, only 31 percent of seniors said their parents view alcohol use is "very wrong."

"We want to give parents some ideas on how to address these issues," said Wisely.

Meeting dates and locations are as follows. All meetings will run from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

Thursday, November 1: Brookwood Forest Elementary
Monday, November 5: Mountain Brook Elementary
Wednesday, November 7: Mountain Brook High School
Wednesday, November 14: Mountain Brook Junior High
Monday, November 19: Cherokee Bend Elementary
Tuesday, November 27: Crestline Elementary School

For more information, email studentservices@mtnbrook.k12.al.us

Published October 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM, Updated October 25, 2012 at 2:42 PM

By: Ana Rodriguez | arodriguez@al.com  al.comThe Birmingham News al.com

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