Posted by Melissa Burlaga
Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) Students of all ages all around the country have pledged to a drug-free lifestyle.
Those drug-free messages can't start too early.
Some kids may be trading their Barbies and basketballs for booze.
Barbara Reyelts has more in our Connect With Kids Report.
When do most kids start drinking alcohol?
Kim was only 12.
"I was drinking and then I was smoking, and then I tried so many different drugs."
"She was experimenting with drugs and liquor. We had to put all the liquor away in the house, and she was going to friends houses and sampling."
According to a study by the University of Minnesota, one in six children start drinking by the sixth grade, and research shows the earlier kids start the more likely they are to become addicted.
"If you have your first drink before age 14, you're four times more likely to develop alcoholism in your life than if you wait until after age 20 to drink."
That's why, experts say, the first line of defense against alcohol and drugs is parents who talk to their kids often and start when they're young.
"You know, I can't tell you how many times parents come in and they have never, never, never approached the word drugs or alcohol with their kids. They just want to ignore it. If they ignore it- it will go away and their kid won't be involved."
"Let them know the risks of their behaviors, and what the consequences might be and you can help them with handling those situations, and knowing what to do in order to avoid them."
After months in counseling and a year in a school for troubled teens ... Kim is now drug and alcohol free.
"I'm very proud of myself."