Data shows Bainbridge teenagers use drugs and alcohol at higher rates than teens in other parts of the state. The Healthy Youth Survey, which is sent to 10th- and 12th-graders statewide, illustrates that.
Of the Bainbridge students surveyed in 2021, 56% of reported that they had vaped or used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days. That number, when compared to the statewide 15%, is staggering.
Additionally, 11% of 10th-graders and 35% of 12th-graders reported having a glass, can or bottle of alcohol in the previous 30 days. That is compared to 8% of 10th-graders and 20% of 12th-graders statewide.
That concerns us, and we feel it is important for our community to ask what we are doing to contribute to those numbers.
The Healthy Bainbridge Alliance, a Bainbridge Youth Services project led by teens collaborating with parents and community representatives, surveyed BI teens in February asking: What is your biggest concern? The survey revealed that teens consistently reported getting alcohol from friends, at parties and from parents. So the HBA chose to focus on raising awareness about underage drinking facilitated by parents in the community and developing creative solutions to combat it.
It is important to get parental support against underage drinking. We know that some people think that supervised drinking by underage children is OK, however, we believe that it is not.
Studies show that permissive parenting regarding alcohol can lead to heavier teen drinking as well as serious adverse health effects. Allowing for supervised drinking can send the wrong message and be the first step toward addiction. Teens can easily get access to alcohol and drink unsupervised—let’s not make it easier.
Studies tell us that the actions of adults matter when it comes to underage drinking. Your example toward drinking affects your teen. Please be a positive role model. We ask that you help to ensure that alcohol is unavailable to minors and that you do not allow minors to drink in your home.
Please commit to being a part of a healthy Bainbridge by signing the parent pledge at: www.change.org/p/healthy-bainbridge-alliance-parent-pledge.
Bainbridge Youth Services runs a monthly column in this newspaper. Max Bispham and Lily Taylor are members of its Youth Advisory Board.