Students in San Diego County are trying to raise awareness about a little-known issue among students under 18 – gambling.
Through the Friday Night Live partnership, with funding from the California Office of Problem Gambling, students from Steele Canyon High School and the City Heights chapter of STAR/PAL are working on an information campaign called Not on My Watch to elicit change in their communities around issues of underage gambling.
As part of the campaign, students created holiday posters with reminders that lottery tickets should not be sold or gifted to underage youth, as they can bring negative long-term consequences and risks for both youth and for businesses. Students asked merchants in the City Heights and Jamul areas to hang the posters. For those that agreed, students presented a retail partner agreement provided by Friday Night Live and asked merchants to pledge that they would not sell tickets to anyone under the age of 18.
Many of the students found it challenging to approach merchants, get them to agree to hang the poster, and to sign a pledge, but said they felt a bigger sense of accomplishment when they were successful.
“I felt like the overall experience was really good, really positive,” said one student. “I feel like we got our message spread to our community really effectively and I can’t wait to see the results.”
In the coming months, students will create public service announcements about the dangers of gambling and host a press event to inform the public and other students about the issue.
Although issues stemming from drug and alcohol use are more publicized, teen problem gamblers tend to have higher rates of school, family, and peer problems; legal and money troubles; and depression, among other issues, according to California Friday Night Live.
To help combat these challenges, the organization launched the media campaign Betting on Our Future, which is intended to empower young people to raise awareness of problem gambling and cause change in their communities. The Not on My Watch campaign is part of this larger effort.