Teen Drinking and the Community

This week, weve looked at the impact of alcohol abuse on teens and their families... but the problem doesnt stop within the walls of a home. In fact, together, communities across the nation, including ours, pay BILLIONS of dollars each year in costs relating to alcohol abuse. The scene is repeated over and over. A drinking problem in one persons life... spills over into someone elses. Prevention specialist Donna Farrell has seen it before. "It can extend to financial situations", Farrell said. "It can lead to problems with law enforcement, of course and can lead to family breakups, it can lead to any number of things and all of those have a cost. Both financial and emotional." The emotional cost of teenage drinking is obvious as lives are changed forever...for teens, for families, and for the wider community. But as the community deals with the emotional cost, they PAY the financial cost of the problem. In Texas, the cost of teenage alcohol problems totals $5.5 billion dollars. And that is damage, insurance and other costs. With that money, you could build 2 Kay Yeager Coliseums. Or you could repave every mile of road in Wichita Falls. And thats every year. Experts say waiting until teens have the problem is too late-- instead, the Texas P-T-A recommends talking with your teens BEFORE they start drinking. And get them involved in school or other activies. Boys and Girls Club Activity Director Dennis Kays says clubs like his keep kids off the streets... and out of trouble. "We try to get them before they need a intervention program," Kays said. "We are the prevention program. It gives them a chance to make good decisions" Good decisions that mean good things for all of us; for the community, for parents and especially for teens. Its a chance to stop alcohol abuse... before it starts. And we hope youll join us at a special town hall meeting tomorrow night at 7 at Barwise Junior High called "Party 101--Consequences." A panel of experts and students will join us as we look at the effect of teen drinking on all of us...And how we can all help. We hope to see you there.

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