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August 20, 1993 - Image 131

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

What gives parents extra
peace of mind is the "lock
in" policy that prevents any-
one from leaving without
parental notification.
Ninety-eight percent of the
senior class attended the
1993 festivities.
Area teens and preteens
are also taking the initiative
against alcohol. Most every
;chool in Oakland County
nas its own chapter of
•iADD (Students Against
)runk Driving). Youth-to-
:outh is another alternative
teens are turning to in the
fight against alcohol.
"Youth-to-Youth is an inter-
national program celebrat-
ng its ninth year in
vlichigan. The organization
ffers fun, drug-free activi-
ties like dances, canoe trips
and amusement park visits.
The group (high schoolers
)nly) meets every Monday
nom 7-9 p.m. at the
irmingham YMCA. Dawn
ilyman, the program's
rector, feels these weekly
eetings really open doors
r kids. "They seem to be
.ying 'I'm making a drug-
ee choice' and that's really
.nportant and courageous
for a lot of them." Any stu-
I dent can attend these week-
ly meetings — or join any of
she monthly outings. But
there's one inflexible rule:
Everyone must come and go
drug-free; this includes no
cigarette smoking.
These alcohol-free alter-
natives may keep some kids
in line, but is it enough?
How to get through to those
with the "Born to be Wild"
attitude? Although the legal
ramifications of underage
drinking are usually too
intangible to influence kids,
parents should be sure they
are understood. Underage
drinking is a civil infraction
punishable with fines and
possible substance abuse
treatment. If alcohol is pur-
chased with a fake I.D., the
minor could lose his driver's
license. And, per the "Open
House Law" in West
Bloomfield, adults are liable
for kids drinking in their
home or in their presence —
the penalty for such action
being up to $500 fine and/or
30 days in jail.
Youngsters who are
butting heads with the law
are usually referred to a
substance abuse program
within their own school.
But teen-agers do not seem
initimidated by legal conse-
quences. They are still get-
ting drunk. According to
Sergeant John Himmel-
spach, Youth Bureau
Director at the West
Bloomfield Police Depart-
ment, "Teen parties are a



big problem since alcohol is
the drug of choice." He
notes that while drinking
and driving seems to be
down, property damage and
littering are the real neigh-
borhood nuisances now.
But the force is with us.
The Department now copies
license plate numbers at
crowded parties and then
sends a nonthreatening let-
ter home, letting parents
know that their kids are at
parties where alcohol is
being served. "We have par-
ents who are grateful and
kids who hate us, so we
know the program is having
an impact," said Sargeant
Clear expectations and
consequences also make an
impact. If young people
drive, consider strict limits
on car privileges. Be aware
of the condition in which
your children come home.
Be involved in deciding
when and with whom
youngsters go out.
Consequences are impor-
tant, but prevention is the
ultimate goal of parents and
professionals alike. Pro-
fessionals agree that pre-
vention needs to start at a
very young age. Beer com-
mercials and stumbling,
singing adults are excellent
for teaching youngsters how
"fun" alcohol can be. What
children don't know is that,
because their body chem-
istry is different from an
adult's, they are more sus-
ceptible to chemical depen-
dency. Young people with a
family history of alcoholism
should also be aware they
are at increased risk of
Parents have total control
over their children from
early ages, but by age 13 or
14, it's harder to establish
control. Parents need to
teach limits and how to
make choices within those
limits, while still allowing
children to have autonomy.
Independent kids with a
sense of self-esteem and
self-worth are more capable
of staving off the pressures
of the teen years. Openness
in the family helps, too.
"Kids aren't going to be
totally open about every-
thing, but parents can get a
sense of what's going on by
keeping the dialogue going,"
says Ms. Meier.
Whatever you do, don't
dismiss your teen's drinking
as "experimentation."
"Experimentation means
one or two uses," explains
Ms. Meier. "Beyond that it
becomes use, which can lead
to abuse."
For more information,

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