A Tall Cop’s Top Takeaways for Parents

What you need to know about underage drinking. Helping kids stay safe is Jermaine Galloway’s passion. As the man behind Tall Cop Says Stop (he’s 6’9”), Galloway crisscrosses the U.S., hitting two or three states a week to train parents, educators, law enforcement, medical professionals, and everyone in between about the dangers of underage drinking and drug use, how to spot it in teens, and current trends that parents should be aware of. Galloway has served in Idaho law enforcement since 1997 and, during his time with the Boise Police Department, began to learn more about the drug culture. He noticed a direct correlation between alcohol and drugs, and began to offer trainings on prevention. Recently, he left the police force to focus full-time on Tall Cop Says Stop workshops and trainings. We picked his brain for a few of his top takeaways for parents. He advises parents to be aware of the following (in no particular order): Don’t minimize drinking. It’s important to understand there’s a strong link between drinking and drugs. If alcohol is available at a party or a friend’s house, chances are drugs are around, too. A teen who’s drinking is more likely to experiment with drugs, as they’re less inhibited when they’re under the influence. Don’t let your child drink at home. “If you serve your child alcohol or let them drink at home, you might think you’re making it safer for them,” says Galloway. “But this actually leads to higher drinking rates and makes kids think drinking underage is socially acceptable when it’s not.” When kids drink, their physical and mental health is at stake. “Drinking really changes the environment you’re in,” explains Galloway. “Suddenly it becomes funny to jump off a balcony. There’s more sexual activity, and sexual assault. If someone passes out, there are predators who will take advantage.” Be on the lookout for drinks that aren’t what they seem. In this travels, Galloway sees alcoholic drinks that look like energy drinks, fruit punch, or orange soda or root beer. “Parents, especially those who don’t drink regularly, might not think to look at these types of cans, but alcohol can look like almost any type of drink these days.” Explain to your child that there’s not as much drinking going on as they perceive. “When I ask students to guess how many kids their age drink, they always overestimate.” Galloway points to studies like Monitoring the Future by University of Michigan, which shows that of the 10th graders surveyed in 2015, not quite 40% had had a drink in the last 30 days. The desire for social acceptance is as much a factor as peer pressure when it comes to underage drinking. “When you look around and it appears everyone else is drinking, then you feel like you should, too, to look cool,” says Galloway. So, if your child knows that NOT everyone’s doing it, they can relax and not feel like they have to. Want to know more about drug and alcohol trends that could affect your child? Follow Galloway on his Tall Cop Says Stop Facebook page or visit his website. You can book him to speak at your school, workplace, or community group. Catch him in Idaho on November 8, 2016, at 7 pm at the Orofino Community Center. Need help knowing what to say to your teen about alcohol? Start here.