NAPLES — With prom and graduation season starting up in Southwest Florida, the problem of underage drinking is one that parents need to take seriously, experts say.
To help parents learn how to do just that, Drug Free Collier and the Naples Police Department hosted an Underage Drinking Town Hall Meeting “Teens, Parties and Alcohol” Wednesday at the Naples High School Auditorium.
More than 50 people including parents, children, law enforcement and education officials attended the event moderated by City of Naples Mayor Bill Barnett, which was aimed at providing an open forum for questions about what the community wants to see in regards to the prevention of underage drinking.
Along with key note speaker, Chief Tom Weschler of the Naples Police Department, a panel of law enforcement, mental health, government and judicial representatives, along with a parent and a high school sophomore answered questions ranging from
According to data provided by Drug Free Collier, in 1965 the average age alcohol was first used in the United States was 17.5. By 2008, the average age had dropped to 11.9.
In 2008, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office made 66 arrests for possession of alcohol by a minor, of which 39 were convicted.
The number of arrest for possession of alcohol by a minor went down slightly in 2009 to 58, with 27 of those arrested being convicted.
As of Wednesday, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 12 teens ranging from 15-years-old to 19-years-old for possession of alcohol. Six have been convicted on the charged.
The event hit home for North Naples resident Kerry Weber, 41, whose two children attend Barron Collier High School.
“I thought it was very informative,” said Weber after the meeting, adding that she expected more parents to have attended and that she wished that the town hall would have been more promoted in area schools.
Weber said she tries to talk to her children and gets a little help from technology that is such a big part of their lives.
“I’m very technologically savvy, so I’m on Facebook, MySpace and yeah they love it,” Weber said jokingly while looking at her 15-year-old daughter Morgan. “I think it’s important for parents to always hold their children accountable and to not always just let them go and do ... to keep up with them.”
Morgan, a freshman at Barron Collier High School, said it does get annoying.
“She freaks out about every little thing that’s not a big deal,” Morgan said with laugh.
Regardless, Morgan said she felt some reassurance that her mom was putting in the effort to keep an eye-out on her and her brother Austin, 17.
“She cares,” said Morgan.
Connect with Elysa Batista at www.naplesnews.com/staff/elysa_batista