Local adults contributing to teen drinking?

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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Local adults are influencing illegal teen drinking. According to a confidential survey of Del Oro High School students, almost a third of the students polled said they got alcohol from adults, and had been to a party or event where adults allowed them to drink. More than half of the students said they got the alcohol from their own home without their parent?s knowledge, while almost 60 percent said they got it at parties. Del Oro assistant principal Bridget Farren said that last month students participated in an anonymous, online health survey that included questions on alcohol use. Some of the results were presented at a teen-parent forum on teen drinking held May 17 at the school. Approximately 300 Del Oro teens and their parents turned out for the forum where they learned some pretty sobering facts. Farren said 620 Del Oro students, in grades nine to 12, responded to the survey. More than a third said they had their first ?full drink? of alcohol before the age of 15. Almost 70 percent said they found it fairly to very easy to get alcohol. Placer County Sheriff?s Deputy Ryan Berry, Del Oro?s student resource officer, said there is a problem locally with parents that are allowing and/or supplying alcohol to teens in their homes. Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner said at the forum, ?Consequences can be very severe for parents providing alcohol if a serious event occurs.? Berry also said that the school ?had seven sexual cases this year. All were alcohol- marijuana related.? But there was good news. Farren said teens are 50 percent less likely to drink alcohol if told not to by their parents. ?Talk early and often to your teens about drinking. Never underestimate the power of your voice,? she said. During the forum, students heard from other Placer County teens who had been negatively involved with alcohol, and students from neighboring high schools presented comments received anonymously from Del Oro students. Some of the anonymous comments included, ?Drinking has become about seeing how much you can drink with shot games and beer pong,? and ?Drunken girls are more likely to be taken advantage of.? Students also commented about peer pressure and said that even designated drivers get pushed into drinking. Freshman Rachel Fears, 15, thought the program ?was really helpful. We don?t really talk about it much at school and we should talk about the consequences.? She also said the program would ?make me think twice about? drinking. She said her biggest fear is ?making a bad decision (drinking) and not remembering what happened.? Junior Kiersten Spradling, 16, said, ?I thought it was pretty inspiring. It was interesting to hear what others have been through.? Kiersten said hearing information from peers was important. Farren said one of the first things parents can do is to lock up alcohol and get rid of unused alcohol bottles that are sitting in cupboards gathering dust. She said the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration recommends parents talk to their teens and express concern, develop family expectations and policies, teach teens about the dangers of drinking and driving, and let them know they are there for them. Farren said students can also talk to trusted resources such as peer helpers or school counselors. She suggested parents should encourage their teens to look for alternatives to alcohol parties and that parents need to stay connected with other parents and to high school events. Farren said in a later interview, ?It?s a small town and we need to know our kids are gaining access to it. We need to take care of our kids.?