For too many college and high school students, back-to-school means back to partying hearty. They drink alcohol with no thought to the common consequences: DUIs, crashes, vandalism, hurting others or hurting themselves in drunken stunts. But the Green Bay, Wis., area got a reminder of another risk not often talked about: sexual assault.
For too many college and high school students, back-to-school means back to partying hearty. They drink alcohol with no thought to the common consequences: DUIs, crashes, vandalism, hurting others or hurting themselves in drunken stunts.
But the Green Bay, Wis., area got a reminder of another risk not often talked about: sexual assault.
An 18-year-old man was sentenced last week for his role in the sexual assault of two girls last summer at an underage drinking party. (He was 17 at the time of the assault.) Kyle Fay will spend six months in jail at the same time his friends are entering college.
Another teen, Michael Philbin — the son of Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin — has been convicted and has served his jail time, also six months.
Fay apologized in court, according to a story on WBAY-TV’s Web site. “I have never done anything like this before and I’ll never do it again. It isn’t the person I am nor the person I want to be,” he said.
But drinking can result in mistakes that will define you forever.
Such mistakes are alarmingly prevalent. Among college students alone, drinking in the 18-to-24 age range contributes to 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year. Those are the most recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
For victims, too, drinking affects their judgment. They aren’t as good at picking up on the signals that, if sober, might tell them to get out of a dangerous situation or never get into it in the first place.
You might have already talked to your teens and/or your college students about alcohol.
Have another discussion. Nothing’s more important than being brutally clear about the consequences.
Some parents rely on school officials to handle instruction about drinking on campus. They shouldn’t. Colleges and universities vary in their commitment to curbing drinking. Some schools do a good job, including the topic prominently in orientation, making sure it’s Topic One at mentoring sessions and plastering bulletin boards with information about the bad things that can happen when you drink too much.
Jail is not too far a stretch.
Young people don’t have to be alcohol abusers to make a mistake they will pay for the rest of their lives. Abuse, however, is common: According to the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 31 percent of college students meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. Six percent suffer from alcohol dependence.
Don’t kid yourself. Underage drinking is a leading public health problem in the United States. It happens more often than parents want to acknowledge.
According to an annual survey of U.S. youth, the Monitoring the Future study, three-fourths of 12th-graders, more than two-thirds of 10th-graders, and about two in every five eighth-graders have consumed alcohol. Among the group at highest risk for sexual assault, 12th-graders, 29 percent engaged in binge drinking. That’s four to five drinks at one time.
It’s not a harmless rite of passage.
According to a 2006 “Alcohol Alert” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die each year as a result of underage drinking. This number includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 from homicide and 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns and drownings.
Two young men in Wisconsin have paid handsomely for their mistakes. They have damaged themselves and their victims for life. Make sure your child knows it’s not worth it.
Rockford Register Star