As the school year comes to an end, the Lodi Police Department will see a growing number of calls involving underage drinking. While this should be a time of year for our teenagers to celebrate their accomplishments from the year past, their fun can quickly lead to tragedy when it involves alcohol.
According to the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 will die each year in the United States due to alcohol-related incidents. These deaths range from automobile and other alcohol-related accidents to alcohol poisoning and even suicide. Last summer in Lodi, a young girl was rushed to the hospital and admitted to ICU after being found extremely intoxicated in a Downtown alley.
As reported by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), in 2007, 62 percent of eighth-graders in the U.S. reported that it was "very easy" or "fairly easy" to get alcohol, compared to 82.6 percent of tenth-graders and 92.2 percent of twelfth-graders.
You may be asking yourself, "How do young people obtain alcohol?" Here is a list of the most common sources:
• The household liquor cabinet - An easy way to avoid your liquor cabinet becoming the source of underage drinking activity is to make sure you lock all cabinets containing alcoholic beverages.
• Older friends and parents - Many adults and parents feel that it is "no big deal" for underage children to drink. We also hear parents say "I'd rather know where my child is going to be…" or, "They are going to do it anyway…" It is a criminal offense to provide alcohol to minors. Adults that provide alcohol to minors also open themselves to civil liability. Before allowing your child to leave your home, make sure to know where they are going. Talk to the parents of their friends, and make it clear to them that you do not want your child to consume alcohol.
• Strangers - Last summer, Lodi PD conducted a "shoulder tap" sting and arrested six adults who allegedly bought alcohol for undercover Police Cadets who were under 21 years of age. If you suspect someone of providing a minor with alcohol, call Lodi Police immediately.
It is important for parents to educate children on the dangers of underage alcohol consumption. Talking with your children about their plans and setting consistent guidelines will not only help the Lodi Police Department with controlling the problem of underage alcohol consumption, but it could save your child's life. For more information on teen alcohol abuse, see www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.
Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Jeanie Biskup, Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm Street, Lodi, CA 95240, phone (209)333-6864.