"I know college used to be the place a lot of kids would first pick up drinking and experimenting, and I've dealt with alcohol abuse a lot in this job," said Gary Bugg, director of security at Centre College. "But in the 20 years I've done this, nowdays, kids' drinking patterns are firmly established by the time they hit Centre's campus."
Many adults commented on Monday's article in The Advocate-Messenger in which high school students candidly answered questions about alcohol, and said some of the statements were pretty shocking, such as kids drinking at school, or how common alcohol is at parties and how easy it is to get.
"I think some adults view kids' drinking as a rite of passage, and they downplay the problem," said Sueticia Sutton of the Community Education program.
"Some parents may have the thought that 'at least they're not doing other drugs,'" County Attorney Richard Campbell said.
Current laws may be ineffective
Beau Weston, a Centre professor, said although he is a teetotaler himself who teaches his teens the same value, he believes kids are not given the tools to understand what moderate drinking is about.
"None of the laws we have (in reference to drinking) are effective," Weston said. He talked about "Choose Responsibility," a non-profit organization that was featured on the TV show "60 Minutes." The organization was founded to create informed public discussion about the presence of alcohol in American culture.
The organization urges government to consider policies that will "effectively empower young adults 18-20 to make mature decisions about the place of alcohol in their own lives," emphasizing the sentiment that alcohol is a reality in the lives of young Americans and it cannot be denied, ignored or legislated away.
Many people at Tuesday's forum said a lack of supervision on the part of parents is a main factor, again citing Monday's article where kids themselves said if their parents don't want them drinking, they need to put a tighter leash on them.
"We need to extend the education about alcohol into recreational events, team or league events, we need more mentors," said City Commissioner Terry Crowley.
Many also commented about the kids who come from families who are not as involved in their teens' lives or don't have money or transportation to join sports teams.
Josh Fuqua, public relations director with Danville school system, said he noticed the comments about boredom in Monday's article, and asked, "But what do you give kids to do? What can we do there?"
Cook said ASAP's next meeting will be in May and the conversation will continue about local teen drinking. She encourages anyone with ideas to participate.