Sussex County Alliance Coordinator Educates Parents on Dangers of Underage Drinking
"The Municipal Alliance Committees (MAC) are the heart of each community's prevention efforts. The committees bring together representatives from local governmental bodies, the educational system, the health care community, law enforcement, business, labor, religious leaders, civic associations, social entities and the community at large. The MACs determine the kind and scope of prevention initiatives that are best suited for their communities. The Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA) evaluates and approves County Alliance Plans in conjunction with the Division of Addiction Services, makes recommendations in regard to the awarding of grants, and distributes the grants to the County Alliances. The County Alliances in turn support and provide for the inclusive network of grass roots volunteers who embody the 528 Municipal Alliances." (Mission Statement of the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse)
Spring has finally arrived and with it warm weather and the end of the school year. Graduation season has also arrived. The Sussex County Municipal Alliance wants to remind parents that permitting parties that include the use of alcohol for teenagers doesn't need to be a great temptation.
On Monday, June 10, 2019, Nick Loizzi, Sussex County Municipal Alliance Coordinator was invited to speak to parents at the Sandyston-Walpack School whose children will be graduating from sixth grade. The program called Step-Up Graduation is a culminating celebration of their children's final year at the school. The parents were at the Linwood MacDonald Campground in Sandyston to attend the celebration and listen to a presentation called Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don't Be a Party to Teenage Drinking. The program was developed by the Prevention Action Alliance (formerly the Drug Free Action Alliance) of Ohio with the goal of bringing information to parents about the dangers and potential consequences of underage drinking. Some of the information Loizzi presented is included below.
What parents should know about the legal issues related to permitting underage drinking:
- As a parent, you cannot give alcohol to your teen's friends under the age of 21 under any circumstance, even in your own home, even with their parent's permission.
- You cannot knowingly allow a person under the age of 21, other than your child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or possessing alcohol.
If you break the law:
- You can face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Others can sue you if you allow anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol and they, in turn, hurt someone or damage property.
- Officers can confiscate any alcohol, money or property used in committing the offense.
Some common reasons parents give for hosting underage drinking parties include:
- I'd rather my kids drink at home than in a car.
- At least they're not doing drugs.
- If I let them drink a little now, they won't go crazy when they turn 21.
- I did it when I was young, and I'm ok.
- Kids will be kids.
What are some of the health and safety issues? The fact is underage drinking is hazardous to the health and safety of those under the age of 21.
- If your child drinks alcohol, it is likely that the alcohol will affect his/her brain development.
- The human brain continues to develop into the mid-twenties.
- If alcohol is heavily consumed in adolescence, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory can shrink by about ten percent.
- When it comes to behavior and brain function, while alcohol has as sedative effect on adults, it acts as a stimulant to adolescents. The more alcohol consumed, the more likely youth are to engage in risky behaviors. Furthermore, due to this stimulant effect, youth are more likely to drink past the point where adults would end up passing out.
- If your child drinks alcohol, you will more likely have to deal with those issues parents dread.
- Kids who drink are more likely to become sexually active (putting them at greater risk of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases).
- Teen girls who binge drink are 63% more likely to get pregnant in their teen years.
- Students who use alcohol are five times more likely to drop out of school or to believe that earning good grades is not important.
- If your child drinks alcohol, he/she is at a greater risk of becoming addicted later in life.
- Forty percent of children who start drinking before the age of 15 will become alcoholics at some point in their lives.
- If the onset of drinking is delayed by five years, a child's risk of serious alcohol problems is cut in half.
This program is available to any school, group, or organization and is provided free through the Municipal Alliance Grant and the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA). For more information about the Municipal Alliance, this program or other programs for your group contact Nick Loizzi, County Alliance Coordinator at (973) 940-5200, ext. 1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.