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Campaign to reduce underage drinking in S.C. effective

In a perfect world, parents, teachers or community leaders would be able to convince young people about the enormity of dangers involving underage drinking, especially when combined with driving. However, young people do not always heed the warnings and make dangerous choices.

However, in South Carolina, the State Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services have made some progress of notifying underage people about the dangers that come with underage drinking. The department has hosted the event for three years in a row, educating young adults about this dangerous habit. Since it launched, department officials have reported a decrease in alcohol consumption by those under 21.

The state conducts its campaign each April to coincide with alcohol awareness month. It's also the festive season for teens, with proms, spring parties and pre-graduation festivities. For the third year in a row, the number of violators cited during the blitz fell, as did the number of stores caught selling alcohol to minors.

This year, the campaign is aptly named "Out of Their Hands." It emphasizes that people under 21 may not buy or drink alcohol or have it in their possession. State officials are spreading the message to those of age, too, since they said minors most frequently acquire alcohol from friends or family members who will buy it or give it to them.

A department spokeswoman said the law enforcement officers also found some adults who were willing to buy alcohol for minors who approached them outside stores that sell it. She said the officers and department occasionally see teens who will admit they are not 21 and ask a stranger to buy it, and that stranger will.

While the news is encouraging, parents and other should continue to stress the message year round. If teens are arrested for underage drinking, parents should consult an attorney for advice on how to make sure the arrest has the least impact possible in the young person's future.

Source: WSPA, "Underage Drinking Drops In South Carolina," May 3, 2012

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