By Gavin West
For decades, alcohol has been as common within households as orange juice. It has also become a staple piece for high school parties, due to our teens constantly craving a strike of lightning in their lives. Some may argue this is because alcoholism runs in the genes of families, others argue this is just teens trying to prove that they are in control of their lives. These are only two of many other justifications you may hear argued. Now, if you ask an actual teenager why they drink you may get one of many different answers ranging from “I do it because it’s fun” to “I do it because I’ve been around it for as long as I can remember and it helps me cope with things in my life.” No matter the rhyme or reason, there is still a large percentage of teens who either drink, have drank, or say they would drink. Whether they would have this drink at a party, with a few friends, or by themselves is unknown, but what is known is that occasionally there are people who bring drinks to school spiked with some form of alcohol or controlled substance. This affects not only the person drinking it but everyone else they come in contact with, for if a teen is intoxicated then they may not make the best decisions for themselves as well as others. This leads to the creation of many problems because the mixture of alcohol and users who are not entirely developed mentally can lead to a number of terrible choices.
After speaking with one of our school officers I was given a rough estimate on the number of under-aged drinking encounters when on patrol in our community. The officer said that off the top of their head they would estimate around 30-40% of their non-call encounters on patrol would involve under-aged drinking. The officer said they have had encounters ranging from young kids drinking in public to pulling over drunk drivers and having intoxicated kids in the backseat. When I asked who the youngest person this officer has caught drinking they responded with 9 years old. In the opinion of the officer many of these kids start drinking for the approval of peers or older siblings which may also lead to many other issues in the child’s life. This means our youth is not only breaking the law by drinking, but also making other life altering decisions afterwards.