Sunday, December 03, 2006

Local: More youth drinking, using in Bay Area

More ninth grade students in Marin County CA are trying alcohol and drugs, a recent survey revealed.

Mary Jane Burke, superintendent of the Marin County Office of Education, said parents, in particular, need more education about being a source for alcohol.

She said ninth-graders, who are typically 13 to 15 years old, are particularly vulnerable because that's when they are starting at a new, bigger school, learning to drive and experimenting with other behavior. The key, she added, will be engaging more ninth-graders in constructive pursuits.

"That's a time when students may involve themselves in risky behavior," she said. "All of us need to be on high alert."

Alcohol and drug use among 11th-graders, by contrast, showed decreases. Details.

Another survey found that more than half of the 13-year old children in Oakland CA had already had their first alcoholic drink, and more than one out of five had their first drink by age 11.

Oakland teenager Contesa Turner, a UC Davis freshman who helped survey the Oakland high school students, said she was astonished to learn how much the media influenced her peers to start drinking.

"These athletes and celebrities in the alcohol commercials and movies are people who youth look up to," said Turner, 17, who is majoring in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. "The kids are trying to imitate them so they can be hip."

Mohamed Abozayd, a clerk at Lakeside Market on 14th Street in downtown Oakland, said the survey results are disturbing but not surprising. He often sees adults buying alcohol for kids.

"I'm a parent, and I don't want to see kids drinking," he said. "I have to look out for everybody, not just my daughter. If I see somebody buying for a kid, not only will I refuse to ever sell to them again, I will tell them, 'What if that was your kid? You should know better.' If a merchant sells to a minor, they don't need to be in business. We need to check everyone's ID."

1 comment:

Pro Alcohol Awareness said...

Your post mentioned how Contesa Turner was surprised to learn how much athletes and celebrities in the alcohol commercials and movies influenced youth to start drinking. This is just another example of the "mixed messages" our society sends out regarding alcohol. While the police and organizations such as MADD denounce alcohol abuse, we have athletes and movie stars who, by their actions, negatively influence youth by making drinking seem "cool."