Sheriff Mark Barrick, Mathews School Superintendent Dr. David Holleran and Mathews High School principal Al Green recently gave a serious talk about alcohol to students at Mathews High School.
During an assembly on Oct. 22 in the school auditorium, Barrick told the student body that a lot of youth he knew had been at a party where there was no adult supervision and that a large amount of alcohol had been consumed. He said he didn’t want to see anything bad happen to any of the students, and that he was instituting a zero tolerance policy for alcohol use among youth.
Holleran gave statistics on the amount of underage drinking that occurs nationwide, saying that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control cites alcohol as the most commonly used and abused drug and that its use by people under the age of 21 is considered a major public health problem.
There are more than 4,700 underage alcohol-related deaths a year nationwide, said Holleran. Further, he said that 12-20 year-olds drink 11 percent of all alcohol, that binge drinking is a greater problem in that age group than among adults, and that nationwide, 189,000 youth emergency room visits annually are related to alcohol.
A 2011 survey showed that 39 percent of students nationwide drank, 22 percent binged on alcohol, 8 percent drove while under the influence, and 24 percent rode with a driver who was under the influence, said Holleran.
He said that youth who drink alcohol have more absences, failing grades, fights, arrests, physical problems, illnesses, and unwanted and unplanned sexual activity than other students. They are also at higher risk of suicide, homicide, burns, falls, drowning and memory problems, said Holleran, and they stand a chance of dying from alcohol poisoning.
"It’s not funny when you see somebody dead," he said. "Think before you drink."