Teenage drinking numbers soar in southern Indiana - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Teenage drinking numbers soar in southern Indiana

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The mock party allowed officers to practice how to safely handle these types of situations. The mock party allowed officers to practice how to safely handle these types of situations.
Scott Friedlein Scott Friedlein
MeriBeth Adams-Wolf MeriBeth Adams-Wolf

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – As students across Kentuckiana graduate high school and summer break goes into full swing, it's no secret underage drinking parties will start to pick up. But there is a reason law enforcement agencies and community groups are particularly concerned in southern Indiana.

While the state of Indiana consistently seems to sit above the national average for teenage drinking, the southeastern counties rank above state averages.

Monday afternoon New Albany Police got a call that an underage drinking party was going on at a community park.  

It was all part of training session, the mock party allowed officers to practice how to safely handle these types of situations. Gone are the days where officers roll up with sirens on, sending teenagers dodging into the nearest field.

"There is a lot of liability when we send these kids out running from the police in a circumstance like this, we actual create more problems for the community, whether it be criminal damage or putting potential DUI drivers on the streets especially when we are talking about young, inexperienced drivers who know have alcohol in their system," said Scott Friedlein, a former police sergeant and consultant for the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center.  

There's a reason law enforcement agencies from Floyd, Scott, Harrison, Clark and Crawford Counties are participating in this two day training course led by Friedlein and made possible by Our Place Drug and Alcohol Education Services.

New research shows by 8th grade, 37 percent of students in southeastern Indiana have tried alcohol. That number soars to 67 percent for high school seniors.

"We definitely have data that tells us we have a problem," said Our Place Executive Director MeriBeth Adams-Wolf. "We need to address it and it is not going to fall on just one sector of the community to solve it. We are doing this law enforcement training, but we are not saying this is their issue to deal with, it is just one part of the strategy."

The other part is getting through to parents who host or provide alcohol to teenagers.

"They think if I just have the kids over to our house, we will take the keys, they won't be driving under the influence, they are going to drink anyway, but doing all that sends the exact opposite message that the parents want to send," said Adams-Wolf.

Starting July 1 a new law will take effect in Indiana. It will hold people accountable if they knowingly allow a party for underage drinking on their property. Adams-Wolf would like to see local ordinances adopt language that would even strengthen that law. 

Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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