– Mandi Fu, DeWitt and Bath reporter
The underage drinking and drug use has been a concern for parents in DeWitt and Bath areas. According to a Clinton County Alcohol and Drugs report (2011-2012) on the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth website, the average age of first alcohol use is 13.6 years old and 25.8 percentage of them have been drunk before. As for drugs use, the average age of first marijuana use is 13.9 years old while only 22 percent of the reported students never tried marijuana for their lifetime. Moreover, 67.5 percent of the students think is easy or very easy to get alcohol and 42.8 percent think it’s easy to get marijuana.
(Steve Crowley, counselor of DeWitt High School – photo by Mandi Fu)
As for this assignable problem among the youths, Steve Crowley, counselor of DeWitt High School, said that the main factors for high school students to use alcohol or drugs are: pressures from home or from school performance. He also talked about society influences on students: “…As they leave, they are introduced to more people that do drink or that do take prescription drugs or drugs themselves. And I think…having that freedom with nobody looking over their shoulder… and then not knowing whether necessarily or not, genetically they might become addicted…”
Lieutenant Spagnuolo, City of DeWitt Police Department officer, mentioned another key point for teenager’s dinking and drugs use, which is the social media: “…It’s (social media) increasing the response. Instead of just telling a friend and telling a friend, you can post your party (photos)…then people are just starting to show off… it’s (drinking and drug information) not limit to just the local area…”
Both of them suggested using parental guardians and school programs to prevent or decrease the risk of getting addicted. Officer Spagnuolo said schools and parents should have stronger analysts and hold teenagers accountable. Crowley mentioned about Health classes in DeWitt High School are working on teaching the refusal skills toward underage drinking/drugs use. The school has series of drug information meetings for parents and students as well.
(Aaron S. Jenkins, communication specialist of Cristo Rey Community Center – photo by Mandi Fu)
Aaron S. Jenkins, communication specialist of a drug rehab and alcohol treatment facility called “Cristo Rey Community Center”, gave advices for addicted young people and their guardians: “You wanna try to find something that they can do as positive…and it starts with having positive role models… do something that’s enlighten…running and do some sports, something that’s challenging for them”.
Also, all of them suggested that corporations with the youths and education on drinking and drugs are necessary for guardians to work on.