Area CHILL members are asking adults to “STOP” buying alcohol for young people.
On Thursday, about 18 CHILL members took part in Project Sticker Shock, intended to educate the public about the dangers of adults buying alcohol for young people and the penalties for doing so.
CHILL members planned to go to all the local Food Lion stores as well as all Kroger stores and Fas Marts on Thursday, said Mary Kate Dillon, the coordinator of this year’s local Project Sticker Shock and CHILL coordinator at Magna Vista High School. CHILL stands for Communities Helping Improve Local Lives.
Dillon said that according to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, studies show that 68 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds said their most common source of alcohol was adults. By comparison, 14 percent said they most recently got alcohol from a commercial outlet, she said.
Dillon said alcohol is one of the most common contributors to deaths, injuries and criminal behaviors among young people.
The warning sticker being placed on multi-packs of beer Thursday looks like a tiny stop sign. It says: “Buying alcohol for a minor? It is illegal for any person 21 or older to purchase or provide alcohol to an underage person. STOP (printed in large letters). Conviction could result in fines up to $2,500 and/or 1 year in jail and the loss of a driver’s license for up to 1 year. www.abc.virginia.gov.”
Yanisha Patel, 15, a rising 11th-grader at Bassett High School, said CHILL encourages young people not to drink alcohol and encourages adults not to provide alcohol for them.
She was among the youth placing stickers on beverages at the Food Lion on Commonwealth Boulevard on Thursday. This is the fourth year in which that Food Lion store has hosted the kickoff for Project Sticker Shock.
Jamel Dillard, 18, a rising senior at Bassett High School, said: “I know people currently doing this (adults providing alcohol to minors). This will help them realize this is wrong and illegal.”
Brooke Mason, 16, a student at Martinsville High School, said adults who buy or provide alcohol for teens are contributing to traffic accidents and injuries or fatalities that may result. Parents who allow young people to use alcohol in their homes may be contributing to problems, too, she said.
According to a brochure on the Virginia ABC website, “Parents who allow alcohol at a party in their home may be held responsible if someone, as a result of alcohol use:
• “Gets into a fight and hurts someone.
• “Falls and hurts themselves or someone else.
• “Sexually assaults someone.
• “Damages property.
• “Dies from drinking too much.
• “Injures or kills someone after driving after leaving the party.”
The brochure adds: “You have a civil liability (meaning you can be sued) to pay damages if either a partygoer is hurt or a third person is injured. Virginia law recognizes your liability for negligence if you provide alcohol to a minor who causes injury to another or him/herself. You may also face criminal charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Even if the above negative situations do not occur, you may face legal charges for providing or allowing alcohol to be used by minors in your home.”
Another brochure on the Virginia ABC website states that 21 teenagers aged 15-19 were killed in alcohol-related crashes and 644 teenagers aged 15-19 were injured in alcohol-related crashes in 2009.
Cody Loper, who graduated from Magna Vista High School this year and will start classes at Virginia Tech this month, said a friend of his was recently injured as a passenger in an alcohol-related wreck.
Nataysha Jamison, 15, a rising 10th-grader at Magna Vista High School, said she hopes Project Sticker Shock “helps young people know more people care about them.”
Katie Connelly, community organizer for Piedmont Community Services and coordinator of the CHILL Youth Task Force, said: “Underage drinking is a serious problem. It’s not a rite of passage. It’s unsafe, unhealthy and illegal.” She said there are “a lot of other great things” young people could be doing rather than drinking, and most local teens are making good choices.
According to Connelly and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), people who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent at some point.
According to the NIAAA website, underage drinking risks include:
• Death — 5,000 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning and other injuries such as falls, burns and drowning.
• Serious injuries — More than 190,000 people under age 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries in 2008 alone.
• Impaired judgment — Drinking can cause kids to make poor decisions, which can then result in risky behavior like drinking and driving, sexual activity or violence.
• Increased risk for physical and sexual assault — Youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault.
• Brain development problems — Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s 20s. Alcohol can affect this development, and contribute to a range of problems.
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Martinsville Police Department and Piedmont Community Services had representatives at Thursday’s kickoff.
Maj. T.N. Thomas said the Henry County Sheriff’s Office “stands in support” of Project Sticker Shock. He reviewed penalties for adults who purchase or provide alcohol to a minor and said violators not only are breaking the law but, in some cases, may be contributing to traffic fatalities that result from teen drunken driving.
“So please don’t buy alcohol for teens,” he said.
Officer Coretha Gravely of the Martinsville Police Department called Project Sticker Shock “a great program.” She urges adults not to buy or provide alcohol to teens and for teens to say no if anyone offers them alcohol.
Ron Hairston, director of human resources for Piedmont Community Services, also praised the project.
Three school resource officers from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office accompanied CHILL members as they placed stickers on multi-packs of beer.
Dillon thanked the stores for participating.