Town hall meetings are being held in 30 Iowa communities to discuss ways to prevent underage drinking. It’s part of a national effort to highlight problems associated with teen alcohol abuse. Trisha Crandall, a prevention coordinator, encourages young people to get involved in finding ways to prevent their peers from experimenting with alcohol.

Crandall says people need to talk with one another and tell their children drinking is unacceptable. “If everybody thinks that they are,” she asks, “then why are they getting away with it?” She says a federal study finds more youth drink alcohol than use tobacco or any other illicit drug.

Crandall says parents need to talk more strongly about what they’re willing to accept. She says laws are changing and people can be liable if they host an event and something happens to a guest who was drinking. Crandall says some parts of rural Iowa, in particular, present certain challenges in combating youth alcohol abuse. She says “Our kids are just as important to us as they are in the city,” she says, but rural people face other issues. Local sheriffs are great, but there’s only one per county, with no help. When people ask why cops don’t pick up underage drinkers, she says, “You can’t be on every corner of the county every minute of the day.”

Crandall says they hope the town hall meetings are the beginning, not the end, of the process. She says maybe in time the perception can be changed that underage drinking is okay, that it’s a rite of passage and that everyone does it. A website details the dates and locations for each forum and other information. Surf to “”.