Skip to main content

Middle-school parents: Start talking before they start drinking

February 28, 2007

What’s the best place for Dane County middle school students to get beer? According to research, right next to the milk in the family refrigerator.

Middle-school alcohol use is a troubling trend across the nation and certainly in Wisconsin, where finding beer is rarely difficult for youth. According to the 2005 Dane County Youth Assessment, more than one-fourth of 7th and 8th graders report that they have consumed alcohol in the past year and nearly one third of those who report using, consume five or more drinks in a single session.

On March 7, “Start Talking Before They Start Drinking,” a town hall meeting on middle school drinking, will examine Madison’s youngest drinkers and what we all can do about this problem. The meeting, hosted by Tom Farley of the Chris Farley Foundation, will examine what we know about early drinking in Dane County, the medical consequences of early alcohol use, and how the entire community can reduce middle school alcohol use.

“Research shows that children who drink before age 14 have a four-times greater risk of alcohol dependence than alcohol-free children. When kids drink, they change the odds for the rest of their life,” says Farley.

“Middle-school drinking can often be the result of simple carelessness of adults. If we cut youth access to alcohol and educate parents to be more vigilant, we can cut youth drinking,” he adds.

The event will be held at the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall, with registration and refreshments beginning at 6:45 p.m. and the program beginning at 7 p.m. After learning more about the scope of middle school drinking in Dane County and the physical consequences of early alcohol use, there will be time for a discussion of what steps community residents can take to reduce middle school drinking.

The event is free and open to the public, and free parking is provided.

Farley is the managing director and president of the Foundation. For more than 18 years, he built a career in marketing and communications, mostly in New York. His experience developing strategic brand and sponsorship programs was instrumental in building the Foundation’s unique communications assets, including the “Chris Farley” brand.

Farley also manages the Foundation’s programs and administration, and is the main speaker at schools and conferences. He develops and manages Foundation events such as “Comics Come Home,” a benefit comedy show in Madison. He is also the marketing director for the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau. He lives in Madison with his wife Laura and three children, Mary Kate, Emma, and Tommy.