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Recent Communities That Care data shows favorable teen attitudes toward drinking

POSTED June 4, 2012 2:24 p.m.

BARTON COUNTY — The Barton County Communities That Care data has been released for 2011-12 school year, showing that work remains in the areas of alcohol use by area teens.
Barton County data show that about 19 percent of area teens report binge drinking, or drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in a row. The state average is 12 percent.
Fifty-three percent of Barton teens report drinking during their lifetime while the state average is 42 percent. In the previous 30 days prior to the survey, 31 percent of Barton teens drank alcohol while the state average was 24 percent.
“This cements in my mind we really need to do something,” said Pat Reinhardt, chairperson for the Hoisington Task Force. The Hoisington Task Force was formed for educating and reducing teen alcohol use, and received grants totaling $53,000. Participating members were from law enforcement, area schools, counselors and students.
“When you look at the state average, Barton County is above the average when it comes to underage drinking. This includes use and favorable attitudes about drinking among teens,” said Reinhardt, referring to data from the annual CTC survey given to students sixth through 12th grade.
 She also said that since the brain is not fully formed until age 25, there is a higher chance of addiction the earlier the drinking began.
The Task Force has been working for the last year to come up with prevention ideas.
They have:
•Contracted for three billboards in Barton County for alcohol prevention messages.
•Barton County youth have recorded/filmed TV spots that will be shown are available for local channel use.
•Flyers, bookmarks, and posters have been ordered and will be delivered to all area school districts for distribution at the beginning of school.
•Flyers will be handed out at the Barton County Fair in July.  
•Provided social hosting prevention message in local newspapers;
In addition, 12 teen leaders from schools throughout the county also met with the Task Force to discuss this issue earlier this year.
The teens listed several problem areas. They said:
•Some parents are not holding their own children accountable and not approving of underage drinking. They said that some parents want to be the cool parent.
•Lack of legal consequences for underage drinking.
•Star athletes get away with drinking.
•A lack of things to do. The students said they wanted to meet new people and be with friends.
•Availability of bootleggers.
The reasons given for drinking were that it was cheaper to buy a case of beer than for a group to go to a movie.
The students said that even though there have been alcohol related car wrecks among teens in the recent past in Barton County,  the students think it is not going to happen to them.
The Communities That Care data is provided by the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center. It is given to 6th, 7th, 10th and 12th graders during the school year.
Social hosting
Parents can be held responsible for teen parties at their home, and recent laws hold some stiff penalties. Called social hosting, the law makes parents responsible for teen drinking in their home or property.


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