Opinion: Editorial: Help the Class of 2019 Celebrate Graduation Safely

Opinion: Editorial: Help the Class of 2019 Celebrate Graduation Safely

The last month of Senior year in high school is an exciting time for students and their families. Our children are moving on to a new stage in life after four years of hard work and intensive studies. When one considers the caliber of our schools, graduation is an even more impressive milestone. Amidst these great achievements, I urge parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of alcohol and to prohibit teens drinking in their own homes.

The Fairfax County Police Department will arrest parents who knowingly host teen parties with alcohol. This may seem harsh to some, but this is a public safety issue. Teens are not yet ready to make good choices about alcohol. When adults serve it to them they send the wrong message and encourage the wrong choices.

It is no secret that teen drinking is wrought with dangerous consequences. Since teens who drink are more likely to binge drink, they are also more likely to make poor choices, such as drunk driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that every year hundreds of young people get behind the wheel intoxicated and cause deadly accidents: 648 people aged 16-20 were involved in a fatal accident with a BAC higher than .08 in 2017. Furthermore, teen drinking can also lead to sexual assaults and other crimes.

I cannot remember one year without hearing of a tragic local teen death caused by drunk driving. It is up to us as parents to do everything we can to encourage smart choices and safe celebration. That starts with clearly setting the boundary with your children that no alcohol will be served at any parties your family is hosting.

This is a community wide problem and will require community support. If you suspect there is underage drinking happening in your neighborhood, you can call the West Springfield Police Station at 703-644-7377 (or your District station).

Graduation season should be a time of merry making, reveling, and kudos for all the hard work our children have done. It should not include jail cells, ambulances, or coffins. Please join me in promoting a safe environment in our community by keeping alcohol out of teen parties.