Underage drinkers obtain alcohol in many different ways. They can steal it, attempt to buy it with false identification, or get it from their friends, parents, or other adults over the age of 21. Frequently, minors are very creative in their schemes to get alcohol.
However, illegal sales to minors can be prevented. A variety of strategies have been shown to be effective, but most communities need awareness and valid information in order to make the best use of these strategies and to monitor their impact and changes in the environment.
The fact is that students do receive “educational” messages from a number of sources. Often these messages are mixed and abundant in the community due to:
- liquor stores and beer distributors that fail to check for proof-of-age identification;
- local bars that offer “happy hours” and other low-price promotion or that serve intoxicated persons;
- advertisements for beer or other alcoholic beverages in the media and on billboards throughout the community;
- an absence of alcohol-free social and recreational options; lax enforcement of underage drinking laws; and
- parents and other adults who make minimal demands on youth and take little interest in their well-being by purchasing or providing alcohol to anyone under 21.
It is paramount that we change peoples’ perceptions and assumptions concerning underage use of alcohol. Studies have shown that through the implementation of the environmental management approach, underage drinking can be reduced. The way to utilize the environmental management approach to alcohol is for citizens to work in a coordinated effort with their local community leaders, youth, law enforcement, and governmental agencies to change the environment that contributes to the problem. People’s behavior is shaped by their environment, so if we are to change behavior, we need to change the environment.
One of the first steps to changing the environment is to change public attitudes. The public must be educated in the factors that exist that have contributed to the underage-drinking problem. In this case, the education and awareness campaign will focus on the adults who buy or provide alcohol for anyone under 21. This project is one way your community can send a clear and persuasive message that it will not tolerate the citizens of the community who turn a blind-eye or a sympathetic ear to adults or others who act as agents to buy or provide alcohol to minors.
“Project Sticker Shock” involves the community working together to create a safer, healthier lifestyle, to reduce underage drinking and its related problems, and to enforce the underage drinking laws. It is a youth driven environmental approach designed to reduce youth access to alcohol. This project permits youth to have a voice in addressing the problem of availability of alcohol to minors and to be active in providing a service that is one piece of the puzzle of solutions. Communities here and throughout Pennsylvania want to attack the social availability of alcohol to minors that is provided by parents and other adults by placing a warning sticker on beer cases. The sticker warns that it is illegal to purchase or provide alcohol to anyone under 21.
Some adults do not perceive youth consumption of alcohol as a danger. Some even feel a sense of relief that “it’s only alcohol” and not a “real” drug. But, alcohol remains the drug most abused by our adolescent population. Many youth begin drinking at early ages, putting themselves at great risk for alcohol problems later in life.
Teenagers know how to get alcohol. Whether they obtain it from friends, siblings, unlocked liquor cabinets or licensed alcohol beverage establishments, nearly 90 percent say it is easy to get. When they first start drinking, most youth get alcohol from home, their friends and other adults, with or without their parents’ permission.
- Did you know that in New York State any adult who buys alcohol for anyone under 21 may be fined $1,000.00 for the first offense?
- Did you know that an adult who supplies minors with alcohol may also be liable for any resulting injuries and/or property damage caused by the minor?
Our ultimate goal is to change societal views of alcohol and youth. Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. is proud to participate in “Project Sticker Shock.” This project is an environmental strategy that addresses the underage drinking concerns in our community. This is not an individual issue; this is not a family issue; and this is not a school issue. Underage drinking is a community concern and the most effective way to address it is through community involvement and your participation.
We would like to Thank our Local Supporters of this Initiative:
- Wellsville and Cuba Giant
- Bolivar and Fillmore Shop-N-Save
- Wellsville and Cuba Walgreens
- Wellsville Save-A-Lot
- Wellsville Shop ‘n Save
For more information, please contact Kim Strauser at 585-593-1920 x719 or Ann Weaver at 585-593-1920 x713.