Underage drinking is focus of town hall meetings

The average age a youth in Missouri indulges in their first drink is 12 years old. That’s right, 12 years old.
And, that’s just one of the startling statistics released in the 2008 Missouri Student Survey reported by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The list is long. Here are just a few of the findings:
• Used alcohol in the past 30 days: 9th grade – 19 percent; 10th grade – more than 35 percent; 11th grade – more than 40 percent; 12th grade – 54 percent.
• Think alcohol is easy to get (at their age): 9th grade – 37 percent; 10th grade – 63 percent; 11th grade – 73 percent; 12th percent – 76 percent.
Despite the many alarming statistics regarding the dangers of underage drinking, there are those that are pushing to lower the drinking age to 18.
The Support 21 Act was introduced in the House on Feb. 12, to ensure underage drinking and its related consequences are reduced. A national media campaign to reinforce support for the minimum legal age of drinking to remain at 21 is a part of that bill. Studies verify that the earlier youth take their first drink, the more likely they will become dependent on alcohol and drive drunk later in life.
Parents, students, teachers, church members and any community member is encouraged to attend any one of three free-admission town hall meetings on how to reduce underage drinking in Clay, Platte and Ray counties.
Pre-registration is required to ensure plenty of seating and materials are available. The following meetings are available:
Clay: March 31 from 3 –5 p.m. at the Regional Police Academy, 6801 N. Pleasant Valley Road, Kansas City, Mo. 64119. Please register by March 27 by contacting Ryan McElhaney, Tri-County Mental Health Services, (816) 877-0496 or
Platte: April 2 from 3-5 p.m. at the Platte County Community Center South, 8875 Clark Ave., Parkhill, Mo. 64152. Register by March 27 by contacting McElhaney,
Ray: April 7 from 6 – 8:15 p.m. (complimentary dinner included), Richmond Middle School Commons, 715 S. Wellington Street, Richmond. Register by March 25 by contacting Jeni Reynolds at 816-580-4900.
The meetings are sponsored by the Northland Coalition, with the support of Tri-County Mental Health Services, and will be an exchange of information and ideas on how to best address the challenge of underage drinking in the Northland.

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