PICKENS — The Steppin’ it Up Coalition has put together a town hall meeting to discuss a growing but not often spoken about issue in the Upstate: underage drinking.
“It’s a big problem,” said Cathy Breazeale, director of preventative services. “It’s a bigger problem than we (the community) want to talk about but it’s too important not to.”
According to Breazeale, underage consumption of alcohol in Pickens County is a growing concern and a topic that parents, teens and the community as a whole needs to be aware of.
“We do these surveys every other year where we poll ninth through eleventh graders,” she said during an interview. “In 2014, because I don’t have the 2016 data back yet, 53 percent of teens reported having had alcohol. Twenty-six percent of them said they have given money to someone else to buy them alcohol and 13 percent had purchased it themselves in stores.
“Now in that same survey, 61 percent said that they thought it was wrong for someone their age to be consuming alcohol regularly so, we’re making progress,” she added.
Although the law is clear in such matters, Breazeale said many teens simply don’t recognize the dangers.
“They figure they’re just having a good time, but your reasoning isn’t fully developed until you’re in your mid-20s. They think they’re going to be fine but they’re not going to be fine. This is dangerous.”
The town hall meeting is designed to educate and engage the community.
“We’ll have a panel there including an M.D. and law enforcement officers that can help to lay out the facts and dismiss the myths that surround teen drinking,” she said. “This is the best way to reach the stake-holders in our community. Parents, adults and youth, they need to be educated on what can happen, both the legal and health consequences.”
Breazeale said the town hall meeting is part one, with a county-wide high school dance following on June 3.
“The dance is open to any high school student in Pickens County that has a student ID. It will be held at the Pickens Rec Department. We just want to show kids you don’t need alcohol to have a good time.”
The meeting will take place on at 6p.m. April 28 at Oolenoy River Baptist Association Headquarters, 301 Secona Road in Pickens.
Visit their website at www.steppinituppickens.org for more information.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.