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Town Hall meeting on underage drinking

Summer break is here, with carefree days of fun and freedom from the responsibilities and regimentation of the school day. Thursday, May 24th the Butler County Drug Free Community Coalition will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting designed to remind us how powerfully we can all make a difference in preventing underage drinking. This Town Hall Meeting will begin at 6 p.m., dinner will be served and a panel of professionals will be sharing information underage drinking, it's effects, and what we can do in Butler County to help our youth.

When this topic comes up, most of us immediately think about the dangers of drunk driving and car crashes. But underage drinking is much more than a highway safety issue, and quite often its impact is not so readily visible. For instance, did you know that youth who begin drinking alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence at some point in their life compared to those who wait until age 21? Or that nearly one in four Kentucky 12th graders and one in five 10th graders report not having been able to recall their behavior after using alcohol or other substances?

For our young people, the freedoms of summer bring new and different opportunities for growth, but these freedoms also bring greater risk. What can you do? Talk openly with your kids about no-alcohol rules for them and set clear expectations. Otherwise, they may take your silence to mean that it's ok or not a big deal if they drink. And be aware of blocks of time when adult supervision of your child is less constant or direct. Research shows that kids are more at risk for alcohol use during the school year while alone from 3:00 to 6:00, so during the summer that window of risk may be open even wider. Call, text, drop by during the workday or come home early on occasion. Staying in touch with your kids sends them the message that you love them, and having involved, connected parents is a very powerful influence on a young person's decision to remain alcohol free.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 24th at 6 p.m. at the Butler County Education Complex in the Board Meeting room. The panel of speakers will include Sheriff Scottie Ward, State Trooper Brian McKinney, EMS Director Brian McKinney, a LifeSkills representative, Butler County youth, an individual in recovery, and Judge John McCarty. Jim Green will serve as the facilitator.

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