Anti-teen drinking campaign launched
BISMARCK -- Some North Dakota parents think it's legal to provide alcohol to their under-aged kids or host parties for under-age drinking , Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday. Or, if they know it is illegal, they don't care and do it an...
BISMARCK -- Some North Dakota parents think it's legal to provide alcohol to their under-aged kids or host parties for under-age drinking , Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday. Or, if they know it is illegal, they don't care and do it anyway, he said.
"In both instances, it's a bad idea," he said.
Stenehjem and state Human Services Director Carol Olson said those persistent attitudes, among parents, young people and others in North Dakota are evident in new survey results and has led them to launch a new campaign to lower the incidence of under-age drinking in the state.
The timing is in part due to the upcoming prom and graduation season, when high school drinking can erupt, they said.
"The results of the survey were shocking," Stenehjem said.
By middle school, one-third of North Dakota students have already used alcohol and 10 percent had their first real drink of alcohol (other than a few sips), before they were 11 years old, according to the most recent state risk behavior survey.
Also, a separate community survey results of attitudes in the state showed that 70 percent of North Dakotans believe it's not difficult or only slightly difficult for youth to get their parents to give them alcohol.
About a third of the survey takers said that in their community, teens drinking is considered acceptable behavior. And more people think teen drinking is all right than approve of teens smoking.
The survey showed that while only 10.4 percent of respondents felt it's all right for parents to offer youth alcohol in their own home, more than one-third disagreed with the statement that there should be a law prohibiting giving alcohol to your own children.
Stenehjem's got news for them. It's already against the law and parents can and should be prosecuted if caught, he said.
As part of the new campaign the state has sent brochures to all parents about under-age drinking, including the criminal laws and the risk of civil liability if they furnish alcohol.
The new education efforts aimed at young people will reach down into grade schools.
Stenehjem said North Dakota's culture that condones drinking shows up in its crime statistics. A quarter of the adults arrested in the state on various crimes in 2007 were arrested for driving while under the influence. And 40 percent of all arrests for crimes in the state were alcohol-related.