Seniors from rival high schools warn about dangers of underage drinking

Apr 29 2012 - 10:55pm

LAYTON -- Two seniors from rival high schools are part of a group that wants parents to learn more about the dangers of underage drinking.

Parker Pratt, of Layton High School, and Hayle Tomney, of Northridge High School, both 18, are members of Layton Communities That Care, a program sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Pratt and Tomney also serve on Layton's Youth Court.

Both learned in November through the CTC program that a significant number of teenagers attending Layton schools are using alcohol.

Pratt and Tomney, along with other members of their group, are sponsoring a town hall meeting -- scheduled for 7 p.m. today at 663 N. Church St. -- for parents to learn the dangers of underage drinking.

"I was really, really surprised," Pratt said. "It's the age that really shocked me."

According to a 2011 Student Health and Risk Prevention survey, 8 percent of sixth-graders in the Layton area reported to have drunk alcohol. That percentage goes up to 15 percent of all eighth-graders and then almost 30 percent of all high school seniors report they have drunk alcohol at some time in their lives.

But what concerns Pratt and Tomney is the percentage of teenagers who drink alcohol at home with their parents' permission.

"I think it's extremely alarming," Pratt said.

Of those who report they drink alcohol, 46 percent in the Layton area said they do it at home with their parents' knowledge. Statewide, almost 41 percent of teenagers who drink report they do so with their parents' knowledge.

"I just don't think parents understand how it affects (teenagers') brains," Tomney said.

Pratt said parents know it is illegal for teenagers to consume alcohol, but don't understand why it is bad.

Last school year, Pratt worked at Vae View Elementary in the afterschool program, helping younger students with their homework.

He knew high school students drank alcohol, but said he was shocked to learn empty bottles of alcohol had been found on the elementary school's grounds.

"Kids were drinking on site, and they're so young," Pratt said.

Pratt said parents need to learn the facts and understand them, so they can help their children to stay away from alcohol.

CTC coordinator Karlene Kidman said those who start drinking before age 21 run a higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol. Also, studies have shown teenagers who drink cause permanent damage to their brains.

Kidman said parents' attitudes need to change so kids can grow up healthy.

The town hall meeting is not just for parents, either. Teenagers are encouraged to come and bring their parents. The meeting also can be used to make up a "U" citizenship grade, Kidman said, but only if the parent and the student both attend. Students and parents do not need to be Layton residents to attend the meeting.

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