Many activities have ages of initiation. A person must wait until turning 16 to start driving; 18 to marry without parental consent; 35 to become president; and so on.
The drinking age is 21 for a reason. The age limit for alcohol is based on research, which shows that young people react differently to alcohol. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates age 21 laws have saved up to 900 lives each year on the road.
In addition, research demonstrates that the brain doesn’t stop growing until age 25. The prefrontal cortex (that is still in development for a teen) governs decision-making, judgment and impulsivity. Teens get intoxicated twice as fast as adults and have more trouble knowing when to stop, which leads to binge drinking.
Current underage drinking prevention laws help protect young, maturing brains. Although this is the law, our culture and social norms give different messages. Alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances in the United States and is heavily ingrained in our culture and community, from advertisements, to commercials, sporting events, social media, and local events.
In Southington alone, there are currently 89 liquor permits in our 36-square-mile town, which includes grocery stores, package stores, cafes, restaurants, hotels and clubs. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, damage emotional stability, finances, career, and impact one’s family, friends and community.
Here are some recent statistics from our student survey:
- 59 percent of Southington students report that it would be easy to obtain alcohol.
- 18 percent of youth report drinking alcohol in the 30 days prior to taking the survey.
- The number one source of alcohol for seventh and ninth graders is from their own home, with or without parent permission.
- 11th graders reported their main source of alcohol being friends, both under and over 21.
How Liquor Stickers Can Help:
Within the STEPS Youth Council, a sub-committee was formed to specifically focus on the prevention of underage drinking with a target audience of parents. Based on our data, we know that a main source teens get their alcohol from is at home. Students involved with our coalition felt if they could get their prevention messages to parents, it could stop the problem at the source.
The students created the concept of a “liquor sticker,” a sticker made of a durable adhesive that is placed over the top of alcohol bottles. If the alcohol is tampered with, the sticker rips. There is also a designated place on the sticker for adults to write the date the sticker was applied and the message on the sticker reads, “Lock Your Liquor.”
The Youth Council hopes these stickers will encourage parents and other adults to store liquor in safe places where youth cannot access them. The liquor stickers were first distributed at the annual Healthy Family Fun Fest and just this past month at the annual Apple Harvest Festival. Additionally, they will be handed out during other occasions such as PTO meetings, open houses and athletic events.
If you are an adult in the Southington community and would like liquor stickers for your home, stop by the youth services department to get yours today. For more information on the Southington STEPS Coalition, please visit www.SouthingtonSTEPS.org.
Megan Albanese is the Southington STEPS Coalition outreach coordinator. She can be reached at (860) 276-6281 or firstname.lastname@example.org.