Guest Column: Talk with your teens about their alcohol use

Published 12:04 am Friday, April 7, 2017

Guest Column by Lana Howe

FCPIP, Freeborn County Partners in Prevention Coalition, a partnership between various organizations and agencies throughout Freeborn County — including the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, Albert Lea Police Department, Fountain Centers, churches, schools and government officials — would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the coming of spring and summer in our community, and to recognize April as Alcohol Awareness Month.

This is the time of year that we celebrate proms, graduations and other celebratory events. Although it is a particularly exciting time for students, with teens being out of school during the summer months, it can leave them extremely vulnerable to at-risk behavior.

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In addition, these community partners would like to congratulate the families of graduating seniors. Without the support, your son or daughter would not have reached this significant point in their life. It is truly a milestone.

Lana Howe

Spring graduations are a time of pride and anticipation for bright futures.

However, to your local law enforcement agencies, this time can be filled with apprehension.

The culmination of high school is a time of celebrations, some of which involve teen alcohol and other drug use. Often times, teens travel to or from graduation or prom parties where alcohol and drugs are available and used. The tragic and often permanent consequences of negative youth behavior are alarming, but also preventable.

You as parents and community members possess the opinion most valued by our children. Research shows that 80 percent of teens report that parents are the No. 1 influence in their decision to use alcohol. As a parent, we’re certain you’d rather work with your children on these issues as opposed to them becoming involved with law enforcement.

We ask that you talk with your teens about these very real and serious issues. Working together, the parents and school, along with support from the community, can combat this problem and create a happier and much safer time and place for our children.

Lastly, we emphasize the real consequences underage drinking can have. It must be mentioned that at the same time we issue the following alert to adults and youth: There are serious criminal and civil sanctions and penalties that may be brought against any individual who provides alcohol to youth under the age of 21. In Freeborn County, these penalties may be fines, up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. Please take this seriously, as law enforcement will.

Again, congratulations to seniors and their families. As a community, we thank you for your concern in this important matter. Prevention is powerful.

Lana Howe is the professional facilitator for Freeborn County Family Services Collaborative and the program coordinator for Freeborn County Partners in Prevention.