Tel Aviv parents, tired of seeing news reports on teenage binge drinking and hearing about the ills of alcohol abuse by minors, recently decided to band together and do something about it.

Tuesday evening will see the launch of the “parent patrol,” a new initiative organized by the parents of the city’s northern quarter, together with the municipality and other national organizations, with the aim of taking to the streets and trying to discourage self-destructive behavior by their children.

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“It’s very important to note that we are not coming out against the children. We are not coming out against anything. All we want is to be there for our kids and assist them in making better decisions,” said Michal Bleiman, a mother of three and a driving force behind the initiative.

Over the past few months, Bleiman and other parents have been educating themselves on the risks of alcohol consumption and the added risks that come with the type of drinking often done by minors. Together they formed an organization called Horim Erim (“Alert Parents”) with the aim of passing on what they had learned both to other parents and to children.

“Even if they think they know everything, teens have a lot to learn. I myself discovered new things in my research, for instance the danger of mixing alcohol with energy drinks,” said Bleiman.

Zvika Koretz, another founder of the group, said the impetus for the activity followed an  accident in May when two graduates of local Lady Davis High School were killed in a car crash as a result of drunk driving.

“The accident seriously traumatized the kids and parents that live around the school and we decided to do what we can to help,” said Koretz, a father of two teenage daughters and an 11-year-old son.

Koretz said that the group received guidance from other such groups in other cities and especially from a group of parents from Ramat Hasharon.

“We realized that we cannot just depend on the school and the Scouts to educate our children,” said Bleiman. “The children are ours, and are our responsibility. It’s not like they drink in school – the drinking takes place when the children are under the parents’ responsibility.”

Bleiman said that when the idea of forming a parent patrol was first raised, the focus was primarily on high-school-age youngsters, but that they quickly found that they would have to aim younger.

“Today it is clear that we have to look for certain behaviors even among sixth- and seventh-graders,” said Bleiman. “both because children are consuming alcohol at a younger age and as a preventative measure for the future.”

Bleiman said that the group would engage in two major activities, one directed at the children and the other at the parents.

“Basically what we plan to do is be out there,” said Bleiman. “We will go to the places in the neighborhood where the children meet – public parks, commercial centers, kiosks – and make ourselves available to the kids. We will approach them in conversation and offer them materials about the risks that go with drinking alcohol.”

Asked if she thought such behavior by parents would push children and teenagers away, Bleiman said that even if the initial reaction was one of anger, the children would appreciate the interest.

“A while ago I attended a special evening organized by the city. They interviewed kids of all ages and asked them what the parents should do to stop alcohol abuse by their kids. They all said that the parents should simply be there for their children. That is just what we plan to do,” said Bleiman.

On the second track, Bleiman said she hopes to educate parents by providing them with a wealth of information about underage drinking and the risks that go with it. For that purpose the group created a Web site, which parents can visit to get the latest information on the topic.

“We hope to enlist as many people as possible at the launch, and plan for our district’s patrol to be a model duplicated throughout the city,” she said.

Leading the initiative from the municipality side is deputy mayor Asaf Zamir. Together with a team of city officials from the Youth Department and social services, the municipality aids the group financially and logistically.

Other partners in the initiative are the Public Security Ministry, the Israel Police, the Anti-Drug Authority, the Al-Sam Anti-Drug Abuse Association and the local Scouts branch.

“I sincerely believe that parents who volunteer for the patrol will be doing something good for the community, but more importantly, they will be doing something good for themselves and for their children,” said Bleiman.
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