Easton Family physician, Dr. Russell Shilling, has recently expressed concern with underage drinking that he is seeing in Talbot County. According to Dr. Schilling, “Underage drinking should be taken as seriously as drug and alcohol abuse.” He attributes part of the problem to parental attitudes which either allow underage drinking or fail to take action with other parents who provide or allow alcohol to be consumed on their property.
The availability of alcohol and apparent willingness of adults to supply alcohol to teen’s means that curbing underage drinking will be an uphill battle, but an important one to win. According to Dr. Schilling, ”I’m seeing more and more cases of students that come in with their mother or father to discuss a rather bad experience with alcohol which is often consumed with others at a friend’s house. The punishing hangover notwithstanding, I encourage parents to take the issue up with the parents who left alcohol accessible, and with the law. While the young teens often cringe, as clearly social stigma for the teen is a big issue, the parents often do not see the over-riding importance of protecting our youth. I realize how difficult making a call to another parent can be, but I encourage parents that they need to take an active role if we are going to change the norms and behaviors in our community.”
Alcohol use by young people is dangerous because of the risks associated with acute impairment, and because it threatens teens’ long-term development. For parents, providing alcohol to a minor is a civil violation with fines up to $2,500 for a first offense and $5,000 for subsequent offenses. Parents who host an underage drinking party can be charged $500 per minor for a first offense and $1,000 per minor for a second offense. You can also face a maximum sentence of six months in jail. Others can sue you if you give alcohol to anyone under 21 and they, in turn, hurt someone, hurt themselves or damage property.
According to Talbot Partnership for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, alcohol nearly 75% of 12th graders and 39% of eighth graders report consuming some type of alcohol in the past year, with more than 25% of high school seniors report that they have consumed five or more drinks in row in the past week.
Dr. Schilling is encouraging Talbot County parents and youth to wake up to the fact that drinking of alcohol at an early age can accelerate the development of alcoholism and increase the risks of severe health problems that might affect people early in adulthood. In addition, parents who allow and teens that drink face consequences that can be dangerous and even fatal.
For further information on alcohol and other drug abuse prevention, contact Talbot Partnership at 410-819-8067.Please also visit our website at www.talbotpartnership.org or find us on Facebook.