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And now for an important message ...

Sandy Partners Coalition campaign discourages furnishing alcohol to minors

If you go

• What: Family dinner night for Sandy Partners Coalition

• Topic: Sticker shock campaign, a prevention message about furnishing alcohol to minors

• When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20

• Where: Cedar Ridge Middle School library, 17255 Smith Ave., Sandy

Sandy Partners Coalition is kicking off the new school year with a call to action.

At its Sept. 20 family dinner night, the community group will focus on the Sticker Shock Campaign, a prevention message discouraging adults from furnishing alcohol to minors.

Community members are invited to join the core group of 12 that meets once a month to discuss issues Sandy and its youth face. The event is geared toward families in the Sandy area with children 12 or older.

Scheduled in anticipation of the Sept. 30 high school homecoming dance, the family dinner format is meant to encourage families talking openly with each other.

'It's a good time to kick it off,' said Kirsten Pitzer, community school site coordinator. 'There's this idea in the broader culture expecting kids to drink, and an idea that it's better if kids drink with their parents.'

According to statistics from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, youth who eat family dinners less than three times per week are two times more likely to use tobacco, almost two times more likely to use alcohol and 1.5 times more likely to use marijuana.

'The No. 1 thing is to be honest and up front,' Pitzer said regarding speaking with kids about underage drinking. 'Ask them not to drink, expect them not to. It's the law, and the consequences can last at least several years.'

Along with open communication, Pitzer and Clackamas County Children, Youth and Families Division encourage parents to keep liquor, wine and beer under lock and key, and monitor the levels in the bottles.

Part of the campaign incorporates red stop-sign window clings for alcohol retail outlets. They offer information about providing alcohol to anyone underage: It's illegal and could result in jail time, a criminal citation up to $1,500 and liability for damages caused by the party who provided alcohol.

'Parents need to be aware of alcohol's allure and the danger of peer pressure,' the Sandy Partners Coalition wrote in its press release.

Other sponsors of the countywide campaign include the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Clackamas County Prevention Coalition, Drug-Free Estacada Families and Youth, Gladstone Youth Coalition, Vibrant Futures, Molalla Weed and Seed, and Oregon City Together.

For more information about the coalition, which began last spring, call Kirsten Pitzer at 503-312-2380.