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Campaign seeks to curb underage drinking

on Tuesday, 10 May 2022. Posted in Local News

Campaign seeks to curb underage drinking

Excitement is in the air with the arrival of prom season in Florence. So many students are looking forward to dressing up and making memories at these special events with friends. While we share in their excitement, we also want to make students and parents aware of the dangers of underage drinking that is, unfortunately, sometimes associated with prom and especially after-parties. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the use of alcohol in teens decreased. However, according to The Journal of Adolescent Health, there was a rise in the number of parents who allowed their children to drink during the shutdown. In South Carolina, nearly 50% of high school students will consume alcohol at some point during their high school years and many teens participate in binge drinking which has become a growing problem across the country. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or five drinks during one event causing the BAC (blood alcohol content) level to rise to dangerous levels. Those that participate in this activity are more likely to be involved in risky behaviors including acts of violence, reduced sexual inhibitions, and they’re also more likely to drive a vehicle and be involved in a crash. In order to minimize the potential dangers and consequences involved with underage drinking during the prom season, Circle Park Behavioral Health Services and the Florence County Coalition for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, along with local law enforcement agencies have joined forces to support the “Don’t Let Underage Drinking Ruin Your Prom” Campaign. This campaign emphasizes the illegality of persons under the age of 21 purchasing, possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages. Prom night parties and Spring Break activities tend to provide an opportunity for many high school students to participate in this dangerous activity. In an effort to address and minimize these potential incidences in our community, the 12th Judicial Circuit Alcohol Enforcement Team, a multi-jurisdictional team of various agencies throughout Florence and Marion counties, will be utilizing a series of enforcement activities during prom nights that may include: • Source Investigations – AET members will be utilizing their resources to identify the source of alcohol that is being possessed or consumed by underage youth at prom activities. Those found to be providing alcohol to minors will be charged and prosecuted. • Party Patrols – AET members will be patrolling neighborhoods, rural areas, bonfire sites, etc. where before and after prom parties may be taking place. • Parking Lot Patrols – AET members will patrol parking lots of local establishments and locations where prom activities may be occurring to ensure that underage alcohol possession and consumption is not taking place. • Restaurant Walk-Throughs – AET members will be visible making walk throughs at local restaurants popular with prom goers and interacting with them to ensure that they understand the importance of having an alcohol-free prom night. • Compliance Checks – AET members will be checking local establishments to ensure that alcohol is not making it into the hands of underage consumers. Underage youth also need to be aware of the constructive possession statute in which anyone under the age of 21 can receive a citation or be arrested for possessing alcohol products, having them in their car or being at a party or event where underage drinking is taking place, EVEN if they are not drinking themselves. We hope that all youth and parents participating in this year’s prom events will work together to make smart, legal and healthy choices to ensure that this year’s prom events in our community are fun, safe and alcohol free. This article was written and submitted by Erica Buffkin, community prevention specialist for Circle Park Behavioral Health Services

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