Panel Discussion Targets Teen Drinking

beer2008-04-03-1207279746.jpgTeenage drinking and substance abuse are becoming rampant problems in the U.S. In fact, the statistics are terrifying: More young people are trying their first alcoholic beverage at the age of 12 and some even as young as 8- years- old. 

It's leaving parents desperate for a solution and in an effort to provide help, KFDX and several local sponsors, held a panel discussion Thursday night at Barwise Junior High called *Party 101: Consequences*. Jason Calder has more.

Officer Jeff Hughes, Town Hall Speaker, said, "We want them to see that underage drinking is not okay and there are definitely consequences that do go along with actions and if they're negative actions, they're going to be negative consequences."

That was the main idea behind Thursday night's Party 101: Consequences town hall meeting.

Leslie Boggs, with the Texas P.T.A., said, "Several years ago that was one of those topics we never thought to talk about as parents that we needed to sit down and talk to our children about but you do these days. You have to open up that conversation."

The panel discussion featured several experts from across Texoma whose task was to give more insight to educators, parents and teens about the side effects of alcohol and substance abuse.

Hughes said, "It's just a community effort and a collaborative effort, a group of people getting together and saying 'We do have a problem. We need to address it' but we do see the numbers going down and hopefully they'll go down a lot more over the next several years."

Boggs said, "We're not pointing fingers at anyone. We just want to make sure that you have good solid information that you can talk to your children and your community members and open up that conversation so you can get that started so we can stop this abuse."

Teri Lloyd experienced alcoholism from the viewpoint of a spouse. Her husband is a recovering alcoholic. She said it was important for her daughters to attend the event.

Lloyd said, "It's a day by day struggle. It's just as hard for the family as well. All teenagers think they know everything and they're invincible but us as parents need to take responsibility and maybe share our past experiences so that maybe they won't step into the same steps we stepped into."

And as long as the discussion touched one person, it can make a difference.

Hughes said, "With events like this there's just no telling how far it's going to reach. You might start a chain reaction."

If you think a program about alcohol and substance abuse might help your school, the Texas P.T.A. can provide the program free to your school.

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