‘If they can’t buy it, don’t supply it’: Nevada County youth join movement to curb underage drinking | TheUnion.com

‘If they can’t buy it, don’t supply it’: Nevada County youth join movement to curb underage drinking

Young people from Friday Night Live and the Grass Valley Police Department Cadet program were out in force Monday afternoon, raising awareness on the topic of underage drinking.

In collaboration with the Coalition for Nevada County Youth and Nevada County Public Health, the local youths held their Project Sticker Shock awareness campaign, meant to bring attention to the issues of underage drinking and adults who provide alcohol for minors.

The young leaders convened at the 76 station on South Auburn Street in Grass Valley. As part of their campaign, the students placed stickers on multi-pack alcohol products warning that "buying, selling or providing alcohol to anyone under age 21 is against the law and punishable by fines and/or jail."

The group also displayed a banner with a clear message for adults: "If they can't buy it, don't supply it!"

Rogers reported that locally, more than 31 percent of high school juniors reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.

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The florescent orange-and-black stickers aren't easily ignored, which is the point in sending a message to those who may consider purchasing for a minor.

"When a business like the Grass Valley 76 station takes responsibility for speaking out against underage drinking it sends a strong community message," said Shelley Rogers, director of the Coalition for Nevada County Youth. "We would like to recognize and thank them for partnering with us and being a part of the solution."

Rogers said youth who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependency or abuse than those who wait until they are of legal age to do so.

Additionally, Rogers reported that locally, more than 31 percent of high school juniors reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. Nearly 20 percent of freshmen and 7 percent of seventh-grade students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.

The reasons kids begin experimenting with alcohol vary, officials said.

"Teen consumption of alcohol knows no bounds in regards to which teens are more likely to drink at a young age," Grass Valley Police Captain Steve Johnson said. "However, there is more propensity for experimentation and regular alcohol consumption in teens that have limited parental influence in their life; kids with less guidance and few if any healthy boundaries set by involved parents are (more) prone to regularly abuse alcohol."

Johnson went on to say that kids who have multiple stressors in their life and have not learned healthy coping mechanisms also show a proclivity to consume alcohol. Often, these stressors are related to problems in their homes, he said.

The Grass Valley Police Department typically work "shoulder tap" operations with the Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control at various times throughout the year.

For parents who don't know how to approach the topic, Rogers said the best thing parents can do is understand their own influence. Kids who say their parents have taught them the dangers of alcohol and drug use are less likely to use either.

"Having meaningful, ongoing conversations about drugs and alcohol," she said, "is key to helping keep your son or daughter healthy and safe."

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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