Sixty-one percent of Loudoun County’s eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders reported drinking, according to a 2004 Loudoun County Communities that Care Survey. Loudoun County eighth-graders reported that regular drinking, at least one to two times a month, began at age 13, according to the same survey.
LOUDOUN’S SCHOOL/COMMUNITY Executive Coalition Council plans to decrease substance abuse among youth through a campaign, made up of community members and organizations.
"Parents who host lose the most," Loudoun County community coalition coordinator Janet Clark said. "That’s what we are calling the campaign."
The alcohol-awareness campaign will begin in October. Coalition members will mail letters to all middle-school and high-school parents, informing of them of the dangers of underage drinking, along with a fact sheet that directly reflects Loudoun County students. The goal is to reduce underage drinking by reducing the number of house parties where teenagers have access to alcohol.
HIGH-SCHOOL students’ parents will receive a pledge card, which they are encouraged to sign. "We’re only giving cards to high-school students because, typically, parties do not occur with middle-school students," Clark said. "However, many parents have children in the middle school and high school."
The card reads, "I will actively chaperone socializing in my home. I will not allow alcohol or drugs to be consumed by teenagers under my supervision."
Clark believes parents who allow underage drinking to occur under their supervision, only perpetuate the problem. "That’s where we see the predominant problem," Clark said. "These parties."
Student services supervisor Betsy Young presented the campaign, "Parents Who Host Lose the Most: Don’t be a Party to Teenage Drinking," at last week’s School Board meeting. School Board member Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) asked about unsupervised parties.
"Unsupervised parties, that’s even scarier," Ohneiser said. Young assured the board that the program covers unsupervised parties, as well.
"We’re going to display these cards in high schools and put up posters around town," Young said. High-school principals will decide where to post the pledge cards. "We don’t get any say over that," Clark said. "We hope they will be displayed in the front of the school. It says that students and adults recognize that the problem is out there."
THE PROGRAM was created by Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth. "This is not a program we created," Clark said. "We customized it to fit our needs."