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Letters to the Editor

Substance abuse stats encourage parents to get involved

Ryan Brownell, Sterling
Ryan Brownell, Sterling

As the holidays are already upon us, it is important to remember to be responsible when celebrating this season.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there had been 946 fatalities resulting from traffic crashes reported in Illinois as of Friday. Alcohol consumption has regularly been found to contribute to the vast majority of fatal crashes. Many of those fatal crashes involve minors who have been consuming alcohol. 

More often than not, when I contact a teenager’s parents to tell them their child has been arrested for drinking alcohol or committing other crimes after drinking, the reaction I hear is, “No, not my child.”

Far too often, I have found that parents are unaware of the risk-taking behaviors their children are involved in. Other parents who are aware of those behaviors in their child have told me it’s “not a big deal” or that “kids will be kids.” 

In a recent survey of high school seniors in Whiteside County, some staggering statistics were found that will, hopefully, put into perspective the importance of paying attention to our children’s activities.

The following are the percentage of high school seniors who: 

n Admitted driving after consuming alcohol – 19 percent

n Admitted driving after using marijuana or other drugs – 24 percent

n Feel it is easy to get alcohol when they want it – 69 percent

n Regularly use or have used alcohol or drugs on a weekly basis – 36 percent

n Have no clear rules at home about drug/alcohol use – 28 percent

n Feel their parents would never catch them if they drank alcohol without permission – 53 percent

n Feel their parents would never catch them if they went to a party where alcohol is served – 57 percent

n Feel their parents would never catch them if they rode in a car driven by a teen who had been drinking – 55 percent

If you have teenage children, especially ones who drive, please take the time to set rules with them regarding drug and alcohol use. And if you already have, a friendly reminder couldn’t hurt.

Take a moment, look at the statistics above, and earnestly consider whether you or your child might fit into any of those figures.

Stay safe this holiday season, and help others to do the same.

Note to readers – Ryan Brownell is the youth officer for the Sterling Police Department and a member of the Whiteside County Healthier Communities Partnership, specifically the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) committee. Officer Brownell has been a police officer for more than 4 years and the youth officer since June.

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