An Anti-alcohol Lesson From Kids

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - May 25, 2005
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I stood before 60 kids with upturned faces and wondered, “Is this working?”

There they were, listening intently while I delivered a message I soon found they’d heard before: Drinking alcohol is bad. Drinking too much alcohol is very, very bad. And too much of a bad thing can kill you.

These were fifth-graders at Lehua Elementary School in Pearl City. It’s not a pretty or good part of town. One teacher, Pam Alo, pointed out, “As you probably noticed while driving to our school, there are several bars and lounges within walking distance from Lehua. Add to this a community park that is well used at night and on weekends and you have temptation at every turn.”

I was there as an invited guest teacher for an anti-alcohol program sponsored by Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona’s office. The idea was for me to present facts and to challenge the kids to realize the harm alcohol can do, especially to children and teenagers. They were supposed to learn from me. I quickly learned a thing or two from them.

First, these children are exposed to a lot. They see drinking going on — on TV, among friends, at parties and in their homes. Many are pretty savvy about how alcohol can make people behave. I asked the kids to put down some of their observations on paper.

“I think drinking is bad because it can make you want to fight with your family,” wrote Jantasia.

Taylor Sweeten had this to say: “The effects of alcohol are humongous. When I say humongous, I mean you can lose judgment. You can lose walking, sight, hearing, brain cells. All of these are critical. You need all of these things to live.”

“Some effects of alcohol are loss of memory,” Ashley Ryan said. “If you drink alcohol and soon fall asleep you may not remember some things when you get up.”

Kids shouldn’t drink, according to Raiden Murakami, “because you can get addicted and die, plus you would lose all your brain cells and when you go to school and learn something you will forget.”

Nick Fo doesn’t like it at all, “I think drinking is a disgusting habit and should be banned from public use.”

Shantelle Castleberry is thinking of others when she says, “I think drinking is bad because you could injure someone you love or that is your friend. So don’t drink.”

And I liked what Mark wrote, “killing yourself is not cool. To be yourself is the best thing you can do.”

Nathan Cross said he wouldn’t drink, but there were a few things he doesn’t understand. “I don’t really think drinking is bad unless you drink 5 or more bottles. I also don’t understand why it is a drug. If drinking is a drug, why do they let people drink it?”

And Norman Salcedo stands ready to fight temptation.

“Sometimes I hear on TV or at home, ‘Hey, come on, have a beer,’ like it’s a good thing. But I know someday, someone will ask me the big question. But with all these people telling me about how beer is dangerous, my teacher, DARE inspector, I’m prepared. Kids, unlike adults, are still growing. incomplete, making us more vulnerable to the addiction and dangers of beer. So, kids drinking alcohol? Not good.”

Those fifth-graders knew a lot. They have good teachers in Ms. Alo, Ms. Cavallaro and Ms. Mashino. They have DARE. They have the lieutenant governor’s anti-alcohol program. And even though I felt a little dorky standing in front of them and playing teacher, I knew I was contributing to the way they make choices in life.

It’s true. It takes a village to raise a child. They need all of us to bring them up right and keep them safe. And most important, they need the support and wisdom of their parents.

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