Recently, we published an article entitled, “Social Hosting 101: Part 1.” In the first article of this four-segment series, we gave an overview about what social hosting is and how it can affect our communities. Today, the focus will be on why there is a need for change regarding social hosting in our local communities.
What We Know About Underage Drinking in Georgia
Each year, the Georgia Department of Education conducts a statewide survey amongst Georgia students in grades six through 12. This voluntary questionnaire, known as the “Georgia Student Health Survey,” asks students to report their experiences related to subjects such as school environment, bullying, substance use, suicidal thoughts/actions, and home life. Using the results from the 2015 GSHS, we have been able to gauge the level of need in the state for action when it comes to underage drinking and social hosting. Based on these results from 629,248 Georgia students, including 7,435 Newton County students, these are our conclusions:
The Good News
• 91.8 percent of all Newton County students surveyed reported that they had not consumed alcohol within the past 30 days, which is higher than the 90.2% statewide response
• 99 percent of all Newton County students surveyed reported that they had not operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol within the past 30 days, which is the same as the statewide response
• 94 percent of all Newton County students surveyed reported that they had not ridden in a vehicle with a driver who was under the influence within the past 30 days, which is higher than the 93% statewide response
The Concerning News
• 93 percent of reported underage drinking occurs at home, in the car, or at a friend’s home.
• This means that around 566 students (93% of those who reported drinking in the last 30 days) in Newton County are drinking at home, in the car, or at a friend’s home
With so much at stake for youth when it comes to their health and well-being, including brain development, physical health, emotional state, and decision-making capacity, we can’t afford to turn a blind eye to underage drinking.
Although it is encouraging to know that the vast majority of Newton County’s youth report that they do not drink underage, the small percentage who do still represent a large number of students who are at risk for alcohol-related problems.
While working toward making a change regarding social hosting is a process that takes time, one immediate step that you can take as a parent or community member is to take the pledge to “Be the Wall” between teens and alcohol in your home. “Be the Wall” is a local campaign that offers a way to commit to taking action toward the issue of social hosting, and against underage drinking. If you’d like to take the pledge, please contact Mollie Melvin, HEARTS for Families Community Resource Specialist for Newton County.
As parents, we try to do everything we can to protect our children. By addressing the issue of Social Hosting, pledging to “Be the Wall” between teens and alcohol by not being a social host, and working to reduce the likelihood of others being social hosts, we can decrease the effects of underage drinking on our communities – one household at a time.
Tune in next time, to “Social Hosting 101: Part 3”, as we discuss in detail about a solution that is proven to be effective – the placement of a “Social Host Ordinance” within city and county municipalities.
HEARTS for Families is a non-profit organization based in Snellville, GA. As part of our work on the Alcohol Prevention Project, through the Georgia DBHDD, we have a representative who serves Newton County. If you would like more information about the Alcohol Prevention Project and how you can get involved, please contact Mollie Melvin at email@example.com.