Starting this week a series of town meetings are scheduled across Iowa to discuss underage drinking and propose local responses to the issue. Iowa Department of Public Safety spokesman Jim Saunders says they’re teaming with the state health department and the human-services agency.
There will be forty meetings across the state of Iowa, in conjunction with others around the country, to engage communities in talking about underage drinking issues. He says the goal’s to get people thinking about how serious underage drinking is, and how it’s the cause of the loss of life among young people.
He says there’s a whole host of issues including alcohol-related suicides and crime, and in addition to trying to heighten awareness, they hope to engage communities in coming up with solutions of their own. He says the agencies have teamed up to bring local leaders the results of some research that’s sobering.
Kids who drink before age fifteen, he says, are five times more likely to have a drinking problem by the time they’re adults. Saunders says a 2004 survey found 47-percent of the people between age 12 and 20 have consumed alcohol in the last year, and of those, 26-percent engaged in “binge drinking.” He says in addition to those figures, they’ll talk about the human cost.
There are healthcare costs, and injuries that result from alcohol consumption. Saunders says when community members get talking about it, they’re more likely to make better decisions, talk with their kids about the dangers and risks involved, and engage community leaders to educate people and do something about it. The meetings are not just for cops, doctors, teachers and town officials — Saunders says parents and other residents are encouraged to come out to the meetings. They begin Thursday in Worth County and continue through the first week in April.
For a list of the town hall meetings on underage drinking, surf to Iowa KYDS dot-org.