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Targeting teen drinking

Survey finds local eighth grade students have a higher-than-average alcohol consumption level
Local residents are targeting teen drinking after a recent survey of Crook County eighth graders showed alcohol consumption higher than the state average.
   The Reduce Underage Drinking Task Force and the Crook County Community Coalition are co-sponsoring a Monday evening event to help local citizens become more informed about the problem of local teenage drinking. Recent surveys indicate a higher percentage of teenagers drinking alcohol in Crook County compared to teens statewide.
   "I think in a little community, what we hear from kids is that there's nothing to do," said Brenda Comini, director of the Commission on Children and Families.
   The data states that 40.9 percent of Crook County eighth graders have had a drink of alcohol in the last 30 days, compared to 31.8 percent for eighth graders in all of Oregon. According to data, 21.2 percent of Crook County eighth graders have had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row in the past 30 days, with 13.3 percent statewide. Additionally, 47.6 percent of Crook County youth have had their first drink before the age of 13, with the statewide average of 36.7 percent. According to the report, 67.3 percent of eighth graders also feel that getting beer, wine or hard liquor would be "very easy to sort of easy", according to the recent statistics.
   "We're hoping to give parents and community members some information about what's going on with kids and underage drinking in our community," Comini said. "We want adults to understand what their impact is and what kind of mixed message we're sending to the kids. There's some rationalization that `it's just alcohol. At least it's not drugs'. I think parents need to understand what their liability is."
   The forum will address the concerns involved in teens drinking and offer suggestions for reducing underage drinking. The evening will include high school students sharing their perspectives and a question and answer period. Local resource groups will be available before and after the meeting.