|Youth place warning stickers on beer cartons|
Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston:
Rose Smith, a member of the CHILL Youth Task Force, helps her group place warning stickers on packages of beer at Kroger in Rocky Mount.
Monday, August 4, 2014
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
Leaders from the CHILL (Communities Helping Improve Local Lives) Youth Task Force and the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) are working hard to combat the problem of underage drinking.
On Wednesday, trained CHILL members, with the help the Rocky Mount Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, participated in the statewide underage prevention effort "Project Sticker Shock."
Students met at Kroger in Rocky Mount and split into groups. Each group, accompanied by police and youth coordinators, visited participating retailers to place stickers on all multi-packs of beer. The stickers resemble STOP signs and display a warning message about the penalties for providing alcohol to minors.
"Underage drinking is unsafe, illegal and harmful to the body," said Morgan McCarty with Piedmont Community Services. "The brain is still developing until a person is in their mid-20s. It is not until then that the part of the brain, which controls impulses, is developed."
National surveys and reports have identified alcohol as the number one drug of choice among youth and one of the easiest to access. Underage drinking has been identified as a leading public health problem in the United States.
According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA), teens drink less often than adults, but when teens do drink, they drink more than adults.
The studies also show that, on average, young people have about five drinks on a single occasion. SAMHSA calls the behavior "binge drinking," and says it is a very dangerous way of drinking that can lead to serious problems and even death.
"This is why we need to teach children how to properly deal with stress, and how to not give in to peer pressure," said McCarty. "The average age for the first use of alcohol is 12 years old, and studies are now showing that someone who begins drinking before the age of 15 is four to five times more likely to become alcohol dependent."
Project Sticker Shock represents a partnership between youth, licensed establishments, concerned parents and community members, prevention professionals and law enforcement with the goal of educating people 21 years and older about the law and raising public awareness about underage drinking.
Local establishments participating in the project include
Ferrum, Glade Hill, Penhook and Redwood minute markets; Kroger in Rocky Mount and Westlake; Westlake Food Lion; and Sunoco in Rocky Mount.
Funding for the project was provided by ABC through a federal grant from the United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
For more information on the consequences of underage drinking, visit underagedrinking.samhsa.gov or contact McCarty at (540) 493-9258.