April is Alcohol Awareness Month. According to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 30.3% of New Jersey high school students report drinking alcohol, which is higher than the national average of 29.2%. In addition, 15.3% of New Jersey high school students report that they have engaged in binge drinking at least once within the last 30 days. Binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks for female students or five or more drinks for male students within a span of a few hours, puts students at risk for blood alcohol poisoning, black out, and poor decision making. With prom and graduation season right around the corner, it is particularly critical to raise awareness among students and parents that underage drinking is not a harmless rite of passage.
Nonprofit organization EmPoWER Somerset, in partnership with Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset / Hunterdon Counties, developed the educational portal SoberTruth4Youth.org to provide schools, students, and parents with a free and accessible resource addressing topics such as preventing underage drinking, drug use, and teen dating violence through eight short, engaging videos. Viewers can test their knowledge by taking a short quiz associated with each video and can download or print a certificate of completion once all of the quiz questions are answered correctly.
SoberTruth4Youth.org videos feature local professional and personal testimonials, facts and dramatizations to increase knowledge and enhance skills for staying safe and making good choices.
The videos include Fentanyl Factor, His, Hers, the Truth: Marijuana’s Overlooked Consequences, Pills 2 Heroin, In a Split Second and the follow up Rebirth all developed by the Safe Communities Coalition. Real life interviews explore the progression of prescription drug abuse to heroin, the devastating effects of using drugs and alcohol, and what can be done to help prevent future tragedies.
“The Safe Communities Coalition has developed several excellent educational videos,” said Kristen Schiro, Empower Somerset Assistant Director. “We wanted to create a tool for schools, adolescents, and parents to easily access all of these resources in one place. The quiz and certificate features were added to provide teachers with a convenient way of confirming completion, so the videos can easily be used for homework or classroom assignments.”
Other featured videos developed by partner organizations include Why Many Teens are Ditching their Vapes from Community in Crisis; Everything You Wanted To Know About Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships from Safe + Sound Somerset; and Don’t Be a Friend, Be a Parent, a dramatization exploring what can go wrong when parents host underage drinking parties, originally developed by a prevention coalition in Maryland and adapted for New Jersey. Spanish versions of two of the videos, In a Split Second and Fentanyl Factor are also included, with voiceover dubbing and translated text and quiz questions.
“Safe+Sound Somerset is proud to partner with Empower Somerset by sharing our Teen Dating Violence video and quiz,” said Jessica Skultety, Safe+Sound Somerset Outreach and Prevention Manager. “When one in three teens experience dating violence before high school graduation, we need to talk about it. Teen dating violence is caused by one teen purposefully gaining and keeping power and control over another teen. Using substances can make violence worse.”
SoberTruth4Youth.org delivers education on a variety of prevention topics in one convenient location. The portal will continue to be expanded with more Spanish translations as well as new videos on topics such as preventing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. This online prevention education portal was developed with funding from the New Jersey Department of Health and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).