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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
6:56 AM Tue, Sept. 18th

Editorial: 'Nuisance party' law tackles teen drinking

Well-established fact: Teens and alcohol are a risky mix.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, underage drinking in this country is a major public health problem, and minors abuse alcohol more than they do tobacco and illicit drugs. Glaring among the CDC statistics is that young people ages 12 to 20 drink 11 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the United States. Additionally, the CDC reports, more than 90 percent of this use of alcohol occurs during episodes of binge drinking; underage drinkers drink more than adult drinkers during drinking occasions; and, in 2008, 190,000 youths under age 21 visited hospital emergency rooms for injuries and other health problems caused by alcohol.

More disturbing statistics from a CDC 2009 survey indicated that in the 30 days prior to the study, 42 percent of high school students had consumed some amount of alcohol, 24 percent had gone on a drinking binge, 10 percent got into a car and drove after drinking, and 28 percent rode with someone who had been drinking.

So, what are some of the consequences for youth who imbibe? Not very positive.

The CDC figures indicate the youths who drink exhibit problems at school - a higher absence rate and poor grades, they tend not to get along as well with classmates and often do not take part in youth activities. Outside of school, young drinkers face arrest for driving while intoxicated, getting into physical altercations and hurting someone, becoming involved in unwanted sexual activity, and becoming a victim of alcohol-related accidents. As if these possibilities were not enough, underage drinkers may suffer memory problems, and they are at a higher risk of suicide and homicide, changes in brain development that may affect them in later life, abuse of other drugs and death from alcohol poisoning.

Potential consequences of youthful drinking are downright scary.

With this in mind, obviously, the Prescott Valley Town Council has put an ordinance on the table to deal with the problem. This ordinance would give police officers the authority to deter party hosts, property owners or both from repeatedly giving parties or allowing parties where minors drink alcohol. Such "nuisance parties" carry a $100 fine.

Plenty of laws are on the books now that hand out penalties to youths who drink and to adults who allow them to have it.

Yet all these laws only treat the symptoms of young people and alcohol.

Making inroads into solving this problem rests on the shoulders of adults - the adults who make alcohol available to youths and those who fail to teach them the risks.

The message is loud and clear that alcohol is dangerous, especially in the hands of youths. We hope the appropriate people get the message.