MORRIS – One in five Grundy County high school students who admitted to drinking alcohol said they were given the alcohol by their parents, according to data from the 2012 Illinois Youth Survey.
This statistic, and others, is why Paula Goodwin of the No Tolerance Task Force is encouraging parents and community members to attend Monday's town hall meeting addressing the issue of underage drinking.
The meeting is part of a national initiative known as National Prevention Week for Underage Drinking. According to Goodwin, Grundy County is one of several areas across the country hosting meetings to discuss the problem.
The event – titled "Underage Drinking: Facing the Facts" – will be Monday in the Morris Community High School Auditorium from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
"The main thing we're trying to do is get the message to adults about how wrong it is for them to give their kids alcohol," Goodwin said. "I get so tired of people saying it's a right of passage because it's not."
Much like the heroin forums held earlier this year, the event will feature an array of advocacy representatives and professional experts including Kristie Polk of Crossroads Counseling, Becky Peterson of Breaking Free, Grundy County State's Attorney Jason Helland, Rita Kreslin from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists and Dawn Early from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The speakers will talk about the psychological effects of underage drinking and how it increases a adolescents chances of becoming an alcoholic later in life.
"Teen drinking is the No. 1 cause of adult alcoholism," Peterson said. "I think it's important to remind people that alcohol is a drug and it has a serious affect on the growing adolescent brain."
Goodwin said she is excited about the "great lineup" of speakers including Kreslin, from AAIM, who will tell her personal story of losing her son in an alcohol-related traffic crash.
The panel also will discuss how to treat alcoholism and how reduce youth access to alcohol.
Goodwin added the event is targeted at parents who may be modeling unhealthy drinking habits for the children.
"Adults should look at their own patterns and behaviors because their kids are watching," Polk said.
This event will be only the second town hall meeting in Grundy County history to address underage drinking, Goodwin said, but felt it was appropriate since adolescent alcohol consumption in Grundy County is higher than the state average and alcohol is the number one substance abused by Grundy County youth.
"Our adults need to be more responsible," Goodwin said.
IF YOU GO
What: Town hall meeting addressing underage drinking
When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Morris Community High School Auditorium, 1000 Union St., Morris
Who: Contact Paula Goodwin at 815-941-3130 for information