It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s... Mom?

Tel Aviv anti-alcohol ‘parent patrol’ hits the streets; underage drinkers beware!

alcohol teens 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
alcohol teens 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tel Aviv parents, tired of seeing news reports on teenage bingedrinking and hearing about the ills of alcohol abuse by minors,recently decided to band together and do something about it.
Tuesdayevening will see the launch of the “parent patrol,” a new initiativeorganized by the parents of the city’s northern quarter, together withthe municipality and other national organizations, with the aim oftaking to the streets and trying to discourage self-destructivebehavior by their children.
“It’s very important to note that weare not coming out against the children. We are not coming out againstanything. All we want is to be there for our kids and assist them inmaking better decisions,” said Michal Bleiman, a mother of three and adriving force behind the initiative.
Over the past few months,Bleiman and other parents have been educating themselves on the risksof alcohol consumption and the added risks that come with the type ofdrinking often done by minors. Together they formed an organizationcalled Horim Erim (“Alert Parents”) with the aim of passing on whatthey had learned both to other parents and to children.
“Even ifthey think they know everything, teens have a lot to learn. I myselfdiscovered new things in my research, for instance the danger of mixingalcohol with energy drinks,” said Bleiman.
Zvika Koretz, anotherfounder of the group, said the impetus for the activity followed an accident in May when two graduates of local Lady Davis High School werekilled in a car crash as a result of drunk driving.
“Theaccident seriously traumatized the kids and parents that live aroundthe school and we decided to do what we can to help,” said Koretz, afather of two teenage daughters and an 11-year-old son.
Koretzsaid that the group received guidance from other such groups in othercities and especially from a group of parents from Ramat Hasharon.
“Werealized that we cannot just depend on the school and the Scouts toeducate our children,” said Bleiman. “The children are ours, and areour responsibility. It’s not like they drink in school – the drinkingtakes place when the children are under the parents’ responsibility.”
Bleimansaid that when the idea of forming a parent patrol was first raised,the focus was primarily on high-school-age youngsters, but that theyquickly found that they would have to aim younger.
“Today it isclear that we have to look for certain behaviors even among sixth- andseventh-graders,” said Bleiman. “both because children are consumingalcohol 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.
“Basicallywhat we plan to do is be out there,” said Bleiman. “We will go to theplaces 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 aboutthe risks that go with drinking alcohol.”
Asked if she thoughtsuch behavior by parents would push children and teenagers away,Bleiman said that even if the initial reaction was one of anger, thechildren would appreciate the interest.
“A while ago I attendeda special evening organized by the city. They interviewed kids of allages and asked them what the parents should do to stop alcohol abuse bytheir kids. They all said that the parents should simply be there fortheir children. That is just what we plan to do,” said Bleiman.
Onthe second track, Bleiman said she hopes to educate parents byproviding them with a wealth of information about underage drinking andthe risks that go with it. For that purpose the group created a Website, which parents can visit to get the latest information on thetopic.
“We hope to enlist as many people as possible at thelaunch, and plan for our district’s patrol to be a model duplicatedthroughout the city,” she said.
Leading the initiative from the municipality side is deputy mayor AsafZamir. Together with a team of city officials from the Youth Departmentand social services, the municipality aids the group financially andlogistically.
Other partners in the initiative are the PublicSecurity Ministry, the Israel Police, the Anti-Drug Authority, theAl-Sam Anti-Drug Abuse Association and the local Scouts branch.
“Isincerely believe that parents who volunteer for the patrol will bedoing something good for the community, but more importantly, they willbe doing something good for themselves and for their children,” saidBleiman.