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Underage Drinking: It Is a BIG Deal!

Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Michelle Harrison, writes a letter in support of the Live Healthy Douglas Coalition campaign to change social norms pertaining to underage and binge drinking.

Underage Drinking: It Is a BIG Deal!

Alcohol use among teens is on the rise. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some parents wonder whether allowing their children to drink in the home will help them develop an appropriate relationship with alcohol. According to research this does not appear to be the case. In a study of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, researchers observed that students whose parents allowed them to drink at home and/or provided them with alcohol experienced the steepest escalation in drinking (Komro et al., 2007). Other studies suggest that adolescents who are allowed to drink at home drink more heavily outside of the home (van der Vorst et al., 2010).

The Douglas County School System conducts the Georgia Student Health Survey each year, and last year’s survey found that 33 percent of our high school students said that alcohol was easily obtainable. They also reported parental disapproval at only 79 percent for alcohol use. The Association of Community Task Forces (2008) found that Douglas County ranks 82 out of 159 counties for under-age alcohol related vehicle crashes, many resulting in fatalities.

Teen drinking is obviously an adult problem with youth suffering the consequences. Parental involvement is at the top of the list for ways to prevent children from starting to drink alcohol. Pre-teens, teens, and young adults must understand that starting to drink alcohol at an early age can have lifelong negative consequences to their physical and mental health, relationships and careers. Adults must understand that they have a responsibility to keep alcohol out of the hands of our young people.

The Live Healthy Douglas Coalition has been working for the past year on the Douglas Alcohol Abuse Prevention Initiative (DAAPI). This initiative is designed to improve social norms and attitudes about underage and binge drinking in Douglas County. It is part of a state-wide plan, currently completing an assessment of the community’s youth and young adult use and abuse of
alcohol.

I encourage everyone to join in this initiative and show our young people that Underage Drinking: It Is a BIG Deal!

Judge Michelle Harrison,
Douglas County Juvenile Court

Editor's note: for more information about the Live Healthy Douglas Coalition campaign to change social norms pertaining to underage and binge drinking, contact Tamekis Williams, Cobb & Douglas Public Health, at 770-947-3629.

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