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Archive for August, 2008

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By Hon. Karen Arnold-Burger

 

“We can’t stop kids from drinking, so why don’t we just lower the drinking age back down to 18?  They are adults for all other purposes.  Eighteen year-olds can vote, smoke, marry, drive, fly, pay taxes, take out loans, hold public office, serve on a jury and fight for their country,, so what’s the big deal? Let’s stop spending all this tax money and law enforcement officer time fighting a loosing battle!”

 

I often hear this refrain as I speak to adults in our community.  In fact, many Kansas parents today grew up in an era in Kansas when they could drink 3.2% beer when they were 18.  Why did that change and should it be changed back?  Some believe that allowing drinking at younger ages would mitigate youthful desire for alcohol as a “forbidden fruit.”  Before I share my “top five” reasons we should keep the drinking age at 21, let’s take a little trip back in time and examine how the current law came to be.

 

 

After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the decision as to what the legal drinking age should be was left up to each individual state.  Until 1970, the minimum drinking age in most states was 21.  As part of the war protests of the 1960’s, youth started lobbying for a lowered voting age and a lowered drinking age. “Old Enough to Fight…Old Enough to Vote” were popular bumper stickers and buttons of the era.  In 1971, the 26th Amendment was adopted, lowering the voting age to 18 and drinking ages likewise started to be lowered around the country.  Between 1970 and 1976, 21 states reduced the minimum drinking age to 18.  Another 8 reduced it to 19 or 20.  However, these states immediately noticed sharp increases in alcohol-related fatalities among teenagers and young adults.  As a result, of the 29 states that had lowered their drinking age, 24 raised the age again between 1976 and 1984.  By 1984, only three states allowed 18-year-olds to drink all types of alcoholic liquor. The others adopted some sort of stair-step age requirement based on the type of liquor being consumed. 

 

Federal transportation authorities viewed this hodge-podge of state laws as a real highway traffic safety problem. Alcohol-related traffic injuries and fatalities were increasing and some of this was as a result of kids traveling from their home states to neighboring states that had lower drinking ages and then becoming injured or killed as they returned to their home states.  These became known as “blood borders.” In 1984, Congress enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act which had been recommended by President Reagan’s Commission on Drunk Driving.  States were threatened with the loss of 10% of their federal highway funds if they did not raise the minimum drinking age in their state to 21 for all alcoholic beverages.     All states eventually complied so that now all 50 states have a minimum drinking age of 21.  So, that brings us immediately to reason number one.

 

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In the past, the STOP Underage Drinking Project has produced an annual Youth Leadership Summit to be proud of.  Many hours of preparation, planning, and implementing these events have made each Summit very well received by community schools.  These past Summits have motivated students to go back to their schools, and achieve change.  But there has been very little follow-up, or sustained partnership to carry these schools through the entire calendar year.

This year’s Youth Leadership Summit (August 27th) will attempt to deliver sustained success.  STOP will continue the motivational message that these kids can achieve change, and we’ll give them the tools to make that change through an action plan.  The difference is that this year’s Summit will carry an added bonus for teams wanting to continue this partnership throughout the year. 

Students will have the chance to create an online space for their group.  It will be a place to upload their action plan, and check-off initiatives once they complete a step.  They can add photos, and make it their own.  The space will offer chances for students from other schools to share ideas (some that work, and some that don’t).

Once tasks in the school’s action plan have been met, the group will receive “prevention bucks” in return for their achievement.  At certain intervals throughout the year, schools will be rewarded for attaining pre-determined levels of “prevention bucks”.

But the most important piece of gathering “prevention bucks” will be the chance to apply for a mini-grant near the end of school.  Each particular school that has been awarded “prevention bucks” will be eligible to apply.  These funds, once distributed, can be used to further the mission of each group (to recruit new members, to throw a party, to travel to a conference, etc.)  It’s so much easier than planning a fundraiser, because groups are already completing these tasks…Now they’re getting rewarded for it!!!

The unfortunate part is that registration must end today, and so many schools have not registered for this unique event.  The good part is…if your school has not registered, you might still have a chance to participate in the “prevention bucks” system.  Contact the Regional Prevention Center at 913-715-7880 as soon as possible to find out how.

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In a study looking at the propensity of illegal alcohol sales at sports stadiums, researchers reported that nearly one in five people posing as underage drinkers, and three out of four seemingly intoxicated “fans” were able to buy alcohol at professional sporting events. They also found that location mattered: sales were more likely if the attempt took place in the stadium stands rather than at a concession booth.

“We saw that sporting events can be fertile ground for illegal alcohol sales, and that the seats provide an especially high risk environment at events that every year attract an average of 130 million people,” said lead author Traci Toomey, PhD, with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
The study is published in the upcoming issue of the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and was funded by the Substance Abuse Prevention and Research Program (SAPRP) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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Despite evidence showing that the 21 minimum drinking age law saves lives, more than 100 college and university presidents have signed on to an initiative that aims to lower the drinking age. CADCA has joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in opposing the initiative and is urging community coalitions across the country to engage college presidents in their prevention efforts, and to write to university presidents and local newspapers.

The news comes as a new survey released this week by Nationwide Insurance shows that 78 percent of adults support 21 as the minimum drinking age and 72 percent believe lowering the drinking age would make alcohol more accessible to youth. According to the new survey, nearly half believe it would increase binge drinking among teens and more than half say they are less likely to vote for a state representative who supports lowering the legal limit or send their children to colleges or universities with “party school” reputations.
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Please click this link to view the registration information.

When and Where: The 2008 Youth Leadership Summit will be held on August 27 at Cleveland Chiropractic College, 10850 Lowell Ave, Overland Park, from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm. Lunch will be provided for all participants and sponsors.

Please register now so that your school will be involved in the 4th annual Youth Leadership Summit. This year, we will combine both middle school and high school students in order to promote peer mentoring. Teams should consist of no more than 12 students and at least one adult sponsor

Bill Cordes, nationally known and hightly respected motivational speaker, will facilitate the opening session. Bill has worked with the Regional Prevention Center to make previous leadership summits successful in motivating students to achieve succcess in creating a drug-free culture. Afternoon break-out sessions, utilizing proven prevention methods, will focus on social networking and local youth leaders in our communities.

How To Register: School teams that wish to attend the Leadership Summit must complete the online registration form. In addition, please download the participant waiver, signed by the student’s parents and send it, along with payment of $10 per person (including sponsors) registration fee by August 21.

The online link to registration can be found at: http://www.klikideas.com/forms/prevention/registration.html

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