When children are small, parents preach to them about eating their vegetables and sharing with others. As they grow older, they’re lectured about the importance of academic achievement, driving responsibly and staying away from drugs. By the time kids leave for college, their parents hope that life lessons have been well-learned.

Sadly, though, statistics show this often is not the case. So prevalent are dangerous, risky behaviors among college freshmen that a term has been coined to describe it: The College Effect. And when it comes to risky behaviors, the use of alcohol tops the chart. Every year, more than 1,700 college students die in alcohol-related accidents.

To help parents prepare for their teen’s critical freshman year of college, the Erath County Community Coalition is sponsoring a brown bag lunch seminar on the prevalence of underage and binge drinking among young people who find themselves on their own for the first time. Dr. Thad Anglin, vice president of Student Life Studies at Tarleton State University, will give advice on alcohol prevention methods and educational programs embraced by TSU as part of a comprehensive alcohol education, prevention, and enforcement program.

The brown bag lunch will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday in Room 219 of the Thompson Student Center. Free parking will be available on Lots P24 and P27 near the Student Center. TSU police officials ask that attendees not park in spots marked “reserved.”

“As Student Life professionals, we see firsthand the effects of alcohol on students’ lives and the education environment,” says Dr. Anglin. “Our goal is to prevent or reduce alcohol-related problems among college students. Effective comprehensive campus prevention programs that actively engage students through programs and services that are intentional, planned, and provided on a consistent basis is having a profound impact on students’ decisions relative to the use of alcohol. The staff at Tarleton will continue to utilize data in assessing alcohol-related attitudes, experiences, behaviors, and health education needs of students.”

The Erath County Community Coalition is an initiative of STAR Council, a non-profit substance abuse treatment and prevention agency whose home base is Stephenville. Executive Director Danny Boitnott, a former professor at TSU, says underage and binge drinking on college campuses is a national epidemic endangering lives and long-term health and wasting precious education dollars.

“Research shows that early in the academic year - by late September, in fact - the percentage of college students who engage in binge drinking increases by more than 80 percent,” Mr. Boitnott says. “Studies show that even young people who did not experiment with alcohol in high school are very likely to begin drinking - and drinking heavily - during their freshman year on a college campus, when most students are separated from their parents for the first time and are still below the legal drinking age. STAR Council, the Erath Coalition and Tarleton University are working to turn that tide.”

For more information on the Brown Bag Seminar, call STAR Council at 254.965.5515.