published Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Booze, youth and jail

The trouble with underage drinking is that the imbibing youths don't know what they don't know.

They generally haven't experienced enough of life -- or of tragedy -- to understand how they are playing with their lives when they secretly get together to impress each other by drinking.

They're also carelessly playing with other people's lives -- and not only when they drink and drive. Large drinking parties among young people can require a correspondingly large response by police, reducing the ability of officers to respond to other calls as quickly as they otherwise might.

That is part of the motivation for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office's sensible declaration that it no longer simply will be issuing citations to youthful drinkers but instead will be hauling the irresponsible teens to jail or to the juvenile detention center.

Citations, as noted in a Times Free Press article, do not involve an arrest and mug shot, reducing the impact they may have on young people who are caught drinking. A full-blown visit to the jail or the detention center may drive home the point that laws about underage drinking mean something and bear real consequences.

Part of the impetus behind the revised policy was a big recent drinking bust on Signal Mountain. Seventeen underage youths and four adults were arrested after someone in the area reported being shot at -- a report that was not confirmed. Whether or not weapons were involved, though, it's not a good thing for public safety when well over a dozen youths gather for the apparent purpose of consuming alcohol. It's also not a good thing for the individuals themselves.

Local law enforcement officials are both justified and reasonable in making it plain that youth, inexperience and alcohol do not mix -- and that mixing them anyway will not be tolerated.

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pudgyponderer said...

Alcohol is part of our culture. It's as integral in the American lifestyle as apple pie. That's not to say that alcohol isn't an extremely powerful intoxicant that creates serious liability when consumed. But young adults should be led through the process of drinking rather than forced in to the woods. Embracing alcohol education seems vastly more fruitful than punishing behavior that is so heavily promoted in mainstream society. Increasing punishment won't end underage drinking. It will only create more hazardous conditions, more arrests, and more of a forbidden fruit mentality. Instead of obsessively sheltering our teenagers, we should be focusing on guiding them towards a healthy and rational adulthood.

June 6, 2012 at 7:45 a.m.
PinkSalmon said...

It doesn't stop there, pudgyponderer. Wherever teens get together and drink, there's usually other risky behavior taking place. Such as drug abuse, sexual promiscuity; sometimes group sharing which often leads to the transmission of sexually diseases. Some of those diseases can be fatal or can cause an individual to become sterile and unable to conceive later in life. Then there's the potential that certain cancer cells are sexually transmitted. Not to mention the potential for rape when inhibitions are lowered through the use of alcohol.

Many women who are unable to conceive later in life often contracted a sexually transmitted disease earlier in life that went untreated. A startling large precentage of those women are white middle classed and above. Women don't always recognize the potential signs that they may have contracted an STD; cramps, heavy or prolonged menstrual cycles. Since women repropductive organs are internal, and women can naturally discharge anyway, they're not going to pay much attention to something unnatural dripping from an opening the way men will, or may not experience the burning urnination men often have when they've contracted something. Then there's always the potential for developing into full blown alcoholics when earlier age the individual starts to drink.

Alcohol is a gateway drug. Just because alcohol is legal that doesn't lessen its powerful effects. Most all drug addicts started out either consuming alcohol or take their drugs in combination with alcohol.

The law is the law. We can't have one law for one set of indivdiuals because they seemingly come from a better community or class, then severely enforce and punish others using those same laws because their paychecks are smaller and their communities are poorer.

June 6, 2012 at 3:02 p.m.
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