HOISINGTON — The Hoisington Task Force aimed at reducing underage drinking has received an additional $10,000 grant from the Kansas Family Partnership, Hoisington Middle School Principal Pat Reinhardt learned with week.
The Task Force has received a total of $53,000 for alcohol reduction for teens over the past year.
"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 Kansas Communities That Care 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 met numerous times with community members from throughout Barton County. "We’re pleased with representation from all the communities," said Reinhardt. "It’s important to sit down at the table to address this issue."
Earlier in February, students from the Hoisington KAY Club and Teen Court met with the Task Force. The teens present said alcohol consumption was used as an escape and because everyone’s doing it. It also gave them something to do.
There was also a perception that it looked cool and was a social thing that everybody thinks is OK, the teens said.
They also said they want to go someplace where there are not a lot of parents around.
Area teens, law enforcement, educators and community members all have attended the meetings. Kansas does have social hosting laws which make it illegal for parents or adults to recklessly allow minors to consume alcohol in their residence , land, building or structure, according to Section 1. K.S.A. 21-3610c. It carries a stiff fine for conviction.
The idea of forming a YES program in Barton County was also discussed. A YES program is a day long program for teens who have received a minor in consumption or a minor in possession citation. They spend a day receiving alcohol education and parent/teen communication skills. It is also required that a parent attend the class with their teen.
The Kansas number to report underage drinking is 1-866-687-8221 or 1-866-MUST-B-21 and adults in the area are urged to call the number. The information will be passed on to local law enforcement.