Utah County Sheriff, UC Dept of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment partner with Parents Empowered to curb underage drinking
PROVO, Utah (May 26, 2013) -- Starting today, Utah County citizens may notice a new graphic positioned on the back doors of Utah County Sheriff Department patrol vehicles.
The mobile message features an important reminder to local residents -- reading, "Seat reserved for adults who give alcohol to minors."
The graphic message is part of a new campaign between the Utah County Sheriff Department, the Utah County SMART prevention coalition and ParentsEmpowered.org to raise awareness of the dangers of underage drinking, what parents can do to keep their kids alcohol-free, and what consequences apply to adults who provide alcohol to underage kids.
On May 26th at the Utah County Commission chambers located at 100 East Center Street, Provo, Utah, County Commissioners, Sheriff Jim Tracy, representatives from the Utah County SMART coalition, the Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Prevention, and ParentsEmpowered.org, introduced the new initiative, discussing why underage drinking is a major concern for both Utah County leadership and local law enforcement.
"Forty-five percent of kids who drink before age 13 become alcohol-dependent, and parents often talk to their kids two years too late concerning alcohol," shares Sheriff Tracy. "As a community, we want to help educate parents on the dangers of underage drinking, share with parents how they can help keep their kids alcohol-free, and urge adults to never provide alcohol to kids under the age of 21."
Sheriff Tracy went on to say, “High School graduations are this week, and some parents think of providing alcohol to their kids at graduation parties as a rite of passage into adulthood. They don’t understand the liability they carry if one of those kids goes out and gets in a car accident, or, heaven forbid, their child becomes a victim of a sexual assault.”
Research data shares that the number one reason kids choose not to drink is parental disapproval. However, similar studies conducted by the Utah State Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Heath show that a majority of kids who drink report getting their alcohol from home with their parents’ permission.
“Underage drinking is against the law, and for several good reasons,” states Sheriff Tracy. “As officers, we often see the consequences alcohol can have on the lives of young people. We urge parents to please help us keep our youth free from the negative impact of underage drinking as a way to help them have successful and healthy futures.”
The graphic messages on police cars will stay in place for the next six months, as part of the first phase of the underage drinking initiative. In phase two, Utah County and ParentsEmpowered have plans to host numerous community discussions about underage drinking, and begin working with several private partnerships to further expand the reach of the underage drinking message.
ParentsEmpowered.org is a statewide campaign focused on eliminating underage drinking in Utah. Its primary goals are to educate parents about the dangers of underage drinking and provide them with proven skills to communicate with their children about remaining alcohol free. More information is available at www.ParentsEmpowered.org.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment is the Local Substance Abuse Authority for Utah County. The department is responsible for prevention, treatment, and early intervention programs for both youth and adult citizens of Utah County
As part of the Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment, the Substance Misuse and Abuse Reduction Team (SMART) Utah County is dedicated to the prevention of alcohol and prescription narcotic drug misuse and abuse among individuals living in Utah County. Established in 2008, SMART is composed of residents, elected officials, human service providers, law enforcement, educators, business representatives, and other members of the community. Individuals interested in participating in SMART are encouraged to contact Michelle Allen at 801-851-7181, or by following SMART at www.facebook.com/SMART.UTAH.