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6:36 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Underage drinking incident leads to charges, warnings

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Police are asking the public to do their part to stop underage youth from drinking alcohol.

"While some say teenage drinking is a rite of passage or harmless activity that most kids experiment with, the harsh reality is that alcohol can be very dangerous to youth, especially in the quantities they may consume," said Prescott Valley Police Sgt. Brandon Bonney.

Alcohol can be toxic to young bodies and possibly lead to dangerous behavior, including serious health issues, drowning, unwanted sexual encounters, dangerous decision-making, and serious and sometimes fatal vehicular accidents, Bonney said.

On April 20, police officers and emergency medical personnel responded to a home in the 8200 block of Nancy Drive for an intoxicated 12-year-old girl found by a family member lying on the ground near an 18-year-old man, Bonney said, adding that both were vomiting.

The investigation indicated that the girl was provided approximately six double shots of vodka and possibly a synthetic drug known as "spice," Bonney said.

Officers cited the 18-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and underage consumption of alcohol. The 12-year-old girl was referred to juvenile detention on charges of underage consumption of alcohol, and her 21-year-old sister was cited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of marijuana, and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

"These types of situations can have terrible consequences," Bonney said. "Please educate your children, family and friends to stop this. An arrest, serious injury or death should not be the catalyst to make a change in one's decision-making as it may be too late."

Police officers are only one part of the fight to stop underage consumption of alcohol, Bonney said. Parents, peers and other community members need to discourage the use of alcohol by teenagers and abuse of alcohol by adults.

"Education and open communication are the first and best lines of defense against this problem," Bonney said. "All too often, we deal with poor decisions made by both youth and adults alike that cause bigger problems rather than working to fix the problem."

For more information on underage drinking and other similar issues, visit www.azgohs.gov and www.matforce.org.