August 26, 2013

Augusta police conduct stings to curb underage drinking

Augusta police have conducted a number of details to get adults to buy liquor for underage people.

By Craig Crosby
Staff Writer

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The percentage of high school students who said they had consumed alcohol in their lifetime fell from 62 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2011. The number of high school students who consumed alcohol within the previous 30 days fell from 31 percent to 26 percent during that same time period.

But the risk factors are still high, Miner said. For example, the majority of high school students, 55 percent, still have little fear of being caught by their parents. A whopping 83 percent have no fear of being caught by police, though that figure fell from 86 percent in 2009.

Miner said parents and of-age friends continue to be the most common source of alcohol to underage drinkers. Approaching a stranger on the street is much less common, Miner said.

"But I think the kids that are doing it are probably further down the road and more highly motivated," Miner said. "It may be numerically number three, but it's an important focus."

Surveys provide information, but they fail to answer Massey's question. Why would someone break the law just to buy alcohol for someone they don't know? Frost's best shot at an explanation is that there is a perception in society that underage drinking is a rite of passage. The person being asked may recall good times in high school drinking with friends, Frost said, but they don't understand how drinking patterns have changed. Teens now are binge drinking and looking for hard liquors that they can drink faster. The result has been a rapid increase nationally in the number of teens hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.

"It's not just kids sitting around a camp fire," Frost said. "People think back on their high school years, having a couple beers and having fun. That's great, but it's not your kid. If someone bought alcohol for your 16-year-old you'd be furious. The key to remember is, they're not adults. They're children."

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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