Galt City Council members had a sobering discussion at their meeting Tuesday after a presentation showed the city is battling a high percentage of underage drinkers.
Originally, a presentation by Patricia St. James was meant to solely encourage the council to agree to allow the city’s seal on a pamphlet St. James was part of creating to help raise awareness of underage drinking in Sacramento County.
However, when she revealed the percentage of people under the age of 18 who either already had their first drink or who were already battling alcoholism in Galt, Mayor Barbara Payne immediately asked St. James to make a return visit to speak with the city’s Youth Committee to see what else could be done to try to bring the numbers down.
“(The Youth Committee) is great at networking and they can make a difference with something like this,” Payne said. “They can contribute and get the community involved because they understand and can connect with their peers.”
St. James, a resident of Elk Grove who worked in Galt for a number of years, said she would often see students stagger into high school classrooms, already intoxicated from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol early in the morning.
She added that while the overall percentage of underage drinkers in the county was approximately around 25 percent, Galt exceeded that number by roughly 10 percent, meaning about 35 percent of people under the age of 18 had a drinking problem.
“We have some work we need to be doing,” St. James said. “Galt loves their youths and we need to support them. It takes work and discipline to train the body to feel the same way as when someone is drunk and we need to give those who struggle options to work with.”
In the brochure that was handed out to each council member, it states about 26 percent of seventh-graders in the city of Galt had already had their first full drink.
Also in the brochure, St. James pointed out that 47 percent of 11th-graders in Galt had reported having been very drunk or sick after drinking alcohol and 27 percent have driven a car after drinking or been driven by someone who has been drinking.
Council members were also given data that revealed 21 percent of ninth-graders and 30 percent of 11th-graders in the city of Galt reported binge drinking in a 2008-09 Healthy Kids survey.
The survey was conducted to gauge the amount of alcohol being consumed by underage drinkers throughout Sacramento County.
Currently, St. James and other volunteers are working with the school districts in the Galt area as well as the police department to try to take action against the high percentages of young adults who are either consuming alcohol or who have a drinking problem.
According to St. James, the brochure is meant to target parents because “parents are the best line of defense.”
However, brochures and posters on facts about alcohol and how it affects the brain and the body will also be distributed to businesses throughout Galt.
“There is a reason you are supposed to wait until you are 21 to drink,” St. James said. “Your body does not know and will not be able to remember the consequences if you drink when you are 11 or 12.”
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.