The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 12, 2014

Teen trouble

Apathy a major obstacle to teen drinking prevention

ENID, Okla. — When it comes to teen drinking prevention, apathy is a major obstacle.

Don’t assume that “kids will be kids” or that this correctable behavior is just part of Enid’s culture.

A recent statewide survey shows more teens are binge drinking. According to statistics, 52 percent of those surveyed reported drinking 10 or more beverages in a row.

“A lot of kids nowadays, their binge drinking is 10 to 15 drinks in a two-hour period,” said Meri Spurlock, a prevention specialist at PreventionWorkz. “It’s not the old-fashioned kind of binge drinking we’re used to hearing about.”

Disturbingly, a quarter of 12th-graders have ridden with a drinking driver in the past 30 days. That’s not acceptable.

Set a good example. Adults should not enable teens by providing alcohol. That includes parents providing it for their kids’ parties.

Oklahoma’s social host law puts a shared responsibility for underage drinking on the person providing the location for the gathering. Adults or minors can be cited and fined under the law. A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

The second obvious problem is with how much kids are having to drink.

“With this extreme bingeing, even if the group of kids sleeps it off and the next morning they give their keys back, they’re still legally drunk because of the alcohol they consumed,” Spurlock said.

Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said those who host parties for teens are taking chances away from youth to act responsibly.

“Violating the law is a preventable act,” Niles said. “Being intoxicated and driving a motor vehicle is preventable action.

“Everyone calls them tragedies, but really they’re preventable actions.”

Sheriff Niles is exactly right. Our community needs to care more about preventing teen drinking.

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