BY CAROL ROBINSON | CROBINSON@AL.COM
MCCALLA, Alabama – Don’t drink under age. Don’t drink and drive. Best yet, don’t drink at all.
That was the message given Tuesday morning to juniors and seniors at McAdory High School as The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board continued its new public awareness campaign called, “Under Age, Under Arrest” to fight underage and binge drinking. “We felt like we needed to get the message out to young people,” said ABC administrator Mac Gipson. “I’ve had some concerns since I’ve been administrator with some of the binge drinking situations, especially at the university campuses.”
“There is no better time to catch them than now, when they’re experimenting,” he said. “We want to at least try to avoid the situation they get into in college when they get set free.”
The campaign includes public service announcements and programs at high schools and colleges. The first presentation was made Nov. 6 at Prattville High School.
Each year, about 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of under age drinking. That includes deaths from drunk driving, other accidents, homicides, suicides and alcohol poisoning. More than 190,000 people under the age of 21 are sent to emergency rooms for alcohol-related injuries.
Gipson and ABC also shared other statistics:
-1,825 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries.
-Nearly 600,000 college students are injured each year while under the influence of alcohol.
-Nearly 700,000 students are assaulted annually by someone who has been drinking.
-Nearly 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date each year.
-Alcohol is involved in 95 percent of all violent crimes on college campuses.
-More than 3 million students drove under the influence of alcohol.
“Click It or Ticket is rather mild. Our is Under Age, Under Arrest,” Gipson said, “and we mean it.”
During the hour-long program, students heard from law enforcement, school administrators and victims of drunk driving accidents, including Joyce Jones, who lost her 19-year-old son 20 years ago when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Alabama Citizens Action Program Executive Director Joe Godfrey warned students of the dangers of alcohol.
Gipson also said the program also emphasizes it is a crime to buy alcohol for underage drinkers. “What a lot don’t know is it’s a felony,” he said. “Even for parents.”
Sydney Jones, a junior, said she thought the program was informative. “I don’t drink, but it was eye-opening for people who do,” she said. “It scares you. I think they listened, definitely.”