Matt Beckett: Underage drinking

Underage drinking

To the editor:

April is national Alcohol Awareness Month, and the focus is on underage drinking.

Alcohol is the drug most frequently used by high school seniors, and its use is increasing.

Boys usually try alcohol for the first time at just 11 years old, while the average age for an American girl's first drink is 13.

Underage drinking is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes and contributes to youth suicides, homicides and fatal injuries.

Alcohol abuse is linked to as many as two-thirds of all sexual assaults and date rapes of teens, and it is a major factor in unprotected sex among youth, increasing their risk of contracting HIV or other transmitted diseases.

Sadly, however, high school students and parents lack essential knowledge about alcohol and its effects. Eighty percent of Moffat County High School students have drunk more than a few sips, and 29 percent report heavy use of alcohol.

Even more disturbing is the fact that 52 percent of eighth-graders report having drunk more than a few sips, and 10 percent report heavy use already.

Underage drinking is not a complex problem.

Do you support minors consuming alcohol? Do you support others supplying alcohol to your children?

If not, then act accordingly.

Take a stand, stop watching from the sidelines and hoping it doesn't affect you or your loved ones, and get in the game.

There are three areas that have proven to be effective in prevention of underage drinking: curtailing the availability of alcohol, consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations and changing cultural misconceptions and behaviors through education.

Let's all wake up to this problem and get started on the solution.

We can't afford to wait any longer.

Matt Beckett

Moffat County Grand Futures director

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