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DHSS launches underage drinking prevention campaign across First State schools

Cathy Carter/Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services kicked off its new underage drinking prevention campaign on April 23.

The campaign aims to prevent underage drinking in children ages 12 to 20, and binge drinking in young adults under age 25. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more beers in one sitting for males and four or more for females.

"Alcohol poisoning is so, so dangerous at any age but indeed with children and young adults up the age of 25, it becomes more serious as their brains continue to develop," said Landgraf.

31 percent of 11th graders in Delaware have reported drinking in the last month. Karyl Rattay, director of the division of public health, said at the event that kids who start drinking at the age of 15 are five times more likely to become an alcoholic later on in life.  

Landgraf says that it’s important to launch this campaign close to the end of the school year, when kids are most tempted to drink.

“With the end of the school year, we have many happy celebrations coming up," said Landgraf. "We have prom coming up, we have graduation coming up. Many times kids think that to have a good time, they need to include alcohol.”

DHSS launched the campaign at schools across Delaware’s three counties. At Smyrna High School, DHSS staff provided goggles that allowed students to see what things look like when they’re intoxicated.

Secretary Landgraf also introduced Clint Ferrazo, a senior from Caravel Academy who was a binge drinker. He’s currently in recovery and now an accomplished wrestler who has won two state titles.


DHSS will market the campaign in English and Spanish on billboards, television, social media and various other outlets. The messages, which include phrases such as, "Drinking Hurts Thinking," will be targeted at children, young adults and adults who have the ability to influence them.


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