Juvenile service leaders say campaigns against underage drinking are making progress in Nebraska and they are encouraging parents to 'be the influence' for their teens.

"Be Strong - Be The Influence" is a statewide marketing campaign intended to give parents information and skills to guide teens away from risky behavior.

Sandy Morrissey, prevention director for Region V systems in Nebraska, told Otoe County commissioners Tuesday that underage drinking campaigns are working and a new emphasis is underway to encourage parents to stay involved with their teens.

The statewide campaign, under the banner “BeStrong – Be The Influence,”  gives parents information about harmful effects of alcohol, the legal repercussions of underage drinking and skills to prevent teen alcohol use.

It includes a website www.bestrong-betheinfluence.com, billboards and social media. Morrissey said prevention efforts continue to focus on substance abuse and violence prevention in schools.

“We're making a difference in underage drinking in Nebraska,” she said.
Partners for Otoe County has received $20,865 in federal block grants for 2012-13 for prevention activities.

Parents are also an important factor in Otoe County's juvenile diversion program.

Community Service Coordinator Vanessa Sherman told commissioners that parents must agree to take part of the program with their children.
 She said 81 percent of youth involved do not re-offend.

Since 2004, the program has successfully discharged 311 youth and 253 did not have commit another offense while they were minors.

She said the program has served youth from ages seven to 18 and from all household income levels.

Offenses in 2012 include alcohol, 17; traffic, 9; marijuana, 7; and tobacco, 6.