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It’s a problem.
It always has been, and it most likely always will be.
I’ll admit, when I was younger, I tried to get away with it. I say “tried” because I was never successful. My mother always caught my twin sister and me every time our friends and I attempted to drink. She always found out, and we were always punished. And, to be honest, I’m not sure my other friends received the same treatment. Their parents seemed to brush it off as if it wasn’t a big deal. To my mom, it was a huge deal. I might have resented that back then, but not now. I appreciate the fact that she took the issue so seriously. More parents should.
Last week, I received an email from a teacher at the high school concerning teenage drinking. A student came to him to talk about the recent accident involving several high school students on Scott’s Ridge Road, which injured four students. He said the student was extremely upset and wanted to write a letter to the editor about it, but did not want her name published. Normally, the Enterprise doesn’t publish anonymous letters to the editor, but in this case, I’m going to make an exception.
The student wrote the following:
“I am a female student who attends M.C.H.S. I wish to remain anonymous. There's a problem in our community that seems to be ignored by not only the residents of this county, but by the police as well. Teen drinking and driving as well as teens using drugs has gone crazy and unchecked, and it seems as though no one is acknowledging this horrific problem. I have phone records proving that on Saturday, April 5, at 12:19 a.m., I contacted the Lebanon Police Dispatch and reported that there was a party being held in Raywick, and teen drinking was happening. The Lebanon Police did nothing that I am aware of because approximately one hour later there was a tragic accident that was life threatening. As a resident of this county and a peer to those students involved, it breaks my heart to see young kids doing these barbaric things. It saddens me that people stand by and do nothing about what is happening to young people in front of our eyes. What is it going to take? Some one to die before we as a community take some type of action to stop this behavior.”
Before I go on, I must clarify a few things. So far, there has been no mention of alcohol being a factor in the accident the student is referring to in her letter. However, the Kentucky State Police report did state that the two teen drivers were racing, which is extremely dangerous, especially on a road such as Scott’s Ridge. The state police report also said all of the teens involved in the collision were not wearing seat belts, which is another tragic mistake that too many people make on a daily basis.
I verified with Assistant Lebanon Police Chief Greg Young that the Lebanon Police Department did, in fact, receive a phone call stating that at least 30 teens were drinking at "Shit Creek" in Raywick, and something needed to be done.
According to Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Clements, shortly before the accident one of his deputies responded to a hit and run collision in the Scott's Ridge area. When he arrived, no one was there, but there were several beer cans on the ground. I asked Clements if complaints about parties in that area are common and he said the recent call was the first one his department has received in quite some time. But, he said when spring arrives and temperatures start to get warmer his office begins to get complaints about field parties and such around the county. And he said he doesn’t take those complaints lightly. He encourages people, especially young people, to call him or come talk to him or another officer when they have concerns or information about a party that could involve teenage drinking.
“Pick up the phone and call us,” Clements said. “You can do so anonymously. If we get a call, we address it.”
I also encourage young people to speak up about this problem. And, to the young lady who called the police on April 5 to report the party, and who wrote the anonymous letter, thank you. Thank you for reminding me, and the community, that teenage drinking is still a big problem in this community. It’s not a laughing matter. It’s not something we should just brush off. It’s not something we should just accept as a part of growing up. It’s illegal. It’s dangerous. And it shouldn’t be tolerated.
When I was a high school student, I think the only reason I even attempted to drink was to fit in. I didn’t like drinking. I hated the taste of alcohol. But, I did it because my friends were doing it. I didn’t want to be an outcast. But, I now understand that you can still be a social, outgoing person without drinking a drop. I’ve been doing it for years.
In all honesty, when alcohol is present problems usually arise. According to research, young people who start using alcohol before the age of 21 are more likely to be involved in violent behaviors, attempt suicide, engage in unprotected sex and develop alcohol problems later in life. I believe all of that to be 100 percent accurate. But, when you’re young, your desire to fit in trumps everything else. Young people often don’t realize the damaging effects drinking can have on their own lives, their families and their communities. Although I might be speaking/writing to deaf ears, please, teenagers, just don’t do it. At the end of the day, it’s just not worth it.