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Nearly $1 million is headed to Finney County to help curb a pressing problem in the area: underage drinking.

Date: 2/2/2009

Posted by Center for Children and Families on 4/15/2009


Author:    Dena Sattler Section: Commentary

The Finney County Community Health Coalition received good news recently in a federal grant geared toward parent and student education, with $926,000 to serve the county over the next three years.

 

The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services awarded Strategic Prevention Framework grants to 14 Kansas community partnerships to support efforts to prevent and reduce underage drinking.

 

The goal was to find strategies that would work in each community, all of which have their own challenges.

 

In Finney County, that could range from a lack of communication between parents and children about the dangers of underage drinking, to a reluctance of parents to support tougher enforcement of alcohol-related violations by minors.

 

Sadly, one recurring theme revealed in data reported by local students was that adults provide alcohol to minors, who often are allowed to drink at home or at friends' homes. While adults may think it's better to have youngsters supervised with alcohol than out on their own, they're only enabling dangerous behavior that promises to create more serious problems.

 

Underage drinking increases the chances of poor performance in school, traffic crashes, teen pregnancies, sexually-transmitted diseases, crime and suicides.

Coalition advocates in Finney County hope to bolster existing efforts and create new strategies that teach life skills and drug abuse prevention.

 

The programs must fit community needs. In securing the grant, the local coalition had to demonstrate how multiple segments of the community would work together on the effort. That meant bringing together representatives of law enforcement, education, substance abuse prevention agencies, mentoring programs, media, churches, parents, youth and others.

 

Those who'd argue that you can't throw money at a problem should know the funds represent an investment in our future. Headway made today on underage drinking means communities will shoulder less of a financial burden in the future caused by the fallout of alcohol abuse and related issues.

 And with an economic downturn likely meaning cuts to social services, news that nearly $1 million is headed to the county to address a serious public health issue couldn't have come at a better time.