A few years ago, the Surgeon General of the United States issued a now famous "Call to Action" to mobilize the country with this statement: "Alcohol remains the most heavily abused substance by America's youth. We can no longer ignore what alcohol is doing to our children."
Your Sheriff's Office echoes that challenge to every citizen in Washington County - underage drinking is everyone's concern, especially since alcohol continues to be the drug of choice among Washington County adolescents, used by more young people than tobacco or illicit drugs.
Underage alcohol use has a whole range of dangerous and harmful consequences. It is the major cause of death from injuries among young people. It increases the risk of participating in or being the victim of a physical or sexual assault. Alcohol can affect growing bodies in many ways, including everything from alcohol poisoning, brain damage, to an increased risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Studies have shown that most six year old children know that alcohol is only for adults. Sometime between the ages of 9 and 13, many start to question or re-think that belief. By talking early and often with young people about family guidelines and expectations regarding the dangers of underage drinking, we can encourage them to make good choices.
Teens report over and over that they rely on their parents and other caring adults in their lives to help them make tough decisions and to provide good advice. It is important for ALL adults working with young people to send the same message that underage drinking is not okay.
As our teens grow into adulthood, we become more aware that we cannot control their actions or behavior, but we can guide them and teach them the things they need to know to stay safe, especially when socializing and celebrating with their peers.