Community meeting focuses on local underage drinking

Hillsboro school officials held a community briefing Thursday, April 15, to remind parents and students about laws relating to underage drinking and to share information about the effects of alcohol on teenagers.

Among the information presented was a study on the effect alcohol has on adolescent brains.

Linda Ogden, executive director of Communities In Schools of Marion County, said the teenage brain does not finish developing until about age 25. According to scientific studies cited by Ogden, teens who engage in underage drinking are at risk of exhibiting impaired mental development.

?The physical effects of alcohol consumption are less severe in adolescents, but the mental effects are worse than they are in adults,? Ogden said.

Among the harmful effects of underage drinking is disruption of memory.

The meeting focused on giving advice to parents on preventing and dealing with these behaviors. Tips included educating adolescents about risk-taking and negative consequences of drinking and encouraging children to seek advice from parents and other adults.

Other points covered:

? Underage drinking has decreased in Kansas, but increased in Marion County.

? According to the Kansas social hosting law, adults may not knowingly provide property for events at which underage drinking take place.

? Of Marion County students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12?23 percent drank once in the past month; 57.9 percent personally knew an adult who had gotten drunk or high in the past year; 22.4 percent personally knew five or more adults who had gotten drunk or high in the past year; 43.8 percent had conversations with parents about the dangers of underage drinking.

Local resources for dealing with underage drinking include Kansas Family Partnership, Regional Prevention Center of the Flint Hills, Prairie View and CIS of Marion County.

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