Lectures touch on drinking, role of education in good choices

Peter DeBenedittis has dedicated his life to helping people understand how mass media can have an effect on the lifestyles they choose.

DeBenedittis, a media literacy and prevention specialist, will speak to Clovis and Texico youth on Thursday about the importance of media literacy.

DeBenedittis said he will expound on the theory that higher education can make young people less vulnerable and less likely to adopt negative attitudes and destructive lifestyles that can be associated with underage drinking.

DeBenedittis uses a science-based approach to address underage drinking prevention. During his lecture, he will touch on underage drinking, tobacco use, sex and body image.

"We're going to talk about how alcohol companies seduce people and how your brain is a powerful tool," DeBenedittis said.

DeBenedittis said 90 percent of the pleasant experiences that come from alcohol consumption are mental and not caused by chemicals found in alcohol.

"People believe alcohol causes happiness because there are half a million ads telling them that," DeBenedittis said.

"What I teach people is that it's their brain causing this happiness; use your brain (instead of alcohol) and you can turn these qualities on and off when you want to."

DeBenedittis speaks to thousands of students and trains hundreds of educators each year, according to his website. His clients include students from schools and colleges across the nation and state health departments and professional organizations, according to the site.

DeBenedittis is a recovering alcoholic.

Deanna Bouillon, assistant DWI coordinator who manages the Curry County underage drinking program, said there is a significant problem with underage drinking in the area.

Bouillon bases this on a couple factors — the youth risk and resiliency survey Clovis junior high and high school students take every two years, alcohol related juvenile arrests in the area and word of mouth.

She said proven research suggests the younger a person starts drinking the more likely they will develop an alcohol abuse problem.

Bouillon hopes the seminar will provide parents and youth knowledge about alcohol that will help them make informed decisions based on realistic information and not on glamorous lifestyles portrayed in TV ads.

"Peter D. is a very eccentric speaker," said Bouillon, who heard DeBenedittis speak about media literacy in 2012 in Roswell.

"He's a very dynamic speaker so he definitely keeps your attention. He really makes you stop and think about looking at media differently."

DeBenedittis has developed a curriculum for middle schools and high schools called "alcohol literacy challenge," which according to Bouillon, is available to Clovis educators.

  • What: My Child? I Think Not seminar
  • When and Where: 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Thursday, Yucca Middle School; 11 a.m.-noon. Thursday, Texico High School; 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Clovis High School
  • Cost: Free
  • Information: 763-7725

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