They may not be old enough to drink legally, but middle school is often when students get their first taste of alcohol. The Attorney General stopped by a Sioux Falls school Thursday to give young teens a sobering lesson.
Many parents know the importance of talking to their teens about the dangers of underage drinking. But a recent survey shows that 30 percent of kids have tried alcohol before the 8th grade.
"The youth of South Dakota is our future. And what the statistics show is they're using alcohol at an earlier age. And therefore that's why we feel, partnering with the Century Council that we need to talk to the fifth, sixth and seventh graders about the dangers of alcohol," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
Every year, one school in each state gets to host a special seminar called "Ask, Listen, Learn." This year, Axtell Park Middle School welcomed Jackley.
"They ask me questions about what happens if you get caught drinking. So I talk about to them a little bit about the system. Some questions are geared also at explaining how it affects the kids. How alcohol can affect them," Jackley said.
Besides just the physical effects, the kids also learned about poor decision making and possible jail time that can accompany drinking.
"You should at least be 21 to make those decisions. and not be under age. and not know what you're doing," 7th grader Tamaree Duncan said.
"Yeah, and once you drink, like you get addicted to it. And there could have some bad side effects to it sometimes," 7th grader Selwa Said said.
One of the biggest topics to hit home for the kids was peer pressure, something Jackley says is crucial at such a young age.
"Really talk to them a little bit about how to say no. The opportunities they have with their friends to say no to the use of underage alcohol," Jackley said.
And it sounds like these two girls have gotten the message loud and clear.
"I'm definitely going to be aware and not try to be easily pressured into doing something that I don't want to do," Duncan said
"And totally like when I get into college, I'm going to be smart and not even drink," Said said.
Ask, Listen, Learn is an event created by the Century Council. Century Council is a national non-profit, geared towards teaching kids about the dangers of underage drinking.