I came across this scary statistic in my December/January 2009 issue of Hispanic. Researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Texas found that children are exposed to 7 times more alcohol advertising if they attend a school where at least one-fifth of the students are Hispanic. Specifically, in the study of 63 elementary schools, researchers found there were 29 alcohol ads on average in a two block radius surrounding schools with larger Hispanic populations compared with an average of four ads around schools with less than a 20% Latino population. This is particularly worrisome because past research shows that exposure to such ads is strongly associated with alcohol use and intention to use alcohol. Latino children are also at increased risk for alcohol use at young ages.
So what to do? For the next week, pay attention to the billboards that surround your child’s school or the schools in your community. If you believe they are problematic, contact the Parent Teacher Association at the school with your observation and request that they put together a petition that informs the offending company’s marketing director that you would like the billboard moved. We can change the things that are wrong in the world. It just takes our attention.