Children underages raise concern

Published by adviser, Author: Amber Cannon - Assistant News Editor, Date: September 18, 2014
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Since the school year started, many students have been getting underage citations, some even younger than 16. 

The police blotter for the week of Sept. 5 stated that a 15-year-old male, two 14-year-old males, and a 12-year-old female were arrested for underage consumption after leaving a party at The Heights. Two people were transported to the hospital for treatment, one of which had to be treated in the ICU. 

According to The U.S. Department of Human Health and Services, the average age of first-time drinkers was around age 14. 

Leigh Ann Datt, director of student conduct, expressed her concern for how young these individuals were who came to this party. Datt stated that she is still wondering how the individuals got into the party and why a college student would feel comfortable partying with someone that young.

“I was very concerned about that and I’d like to follow up with that as well. I have an email from the chief of police asking if we have any idea of which apartment they were drinking at because he wants to hold the people responsible for letting these people in and providing alcohol. We have consequences for that,” Datt said. 

On-Campus Police Officer, Karl Fisher was also disturbed by the amount of young people drinking at these parties.

“Sometimes students invite their brother and/or sister up to campus for a weekend to hang out. Why they do this, I have no clue. It’s just a bad look on Slippery Rock as a whole,” Fisher explained. “I know a lot of students also invite their family up for Friends and Family Weekend and the siblings usually stay and attend parties, so that might be where those underages came from.”

 Fisher also commented that individuals as young as 15, 14, and 12 shouldn’t even be exposed to the “college lifestyle.”

Among full-time college students, 60.3 percent were current drinkers, 40.1 percent were binge drinkers, and 14.4 percent were heavy drinkers, according to a recent study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Many wonder why college students choose to drink. Most incoming freshmen think that drinking is the cool thing to do on campus, when in reality, not a lot of students drink. According to Datt, she feels that most students believe that drinking is an expectation when coming to college.

“A lot of students don’t realize that the majority of students do not choose to drink. It’s about changing the perception because most freshmen do believe that all undergraduates drink, but that’s not the reality, Datt explained. “We’re not telling students to not drink because quite frankly, that doesn’t work. We’re just telling them about the choices that students can decide to make and the consequences.”

Datt is mostly concerned about the health issues that students face when they drink to a point of needing to be hospitalized, which is happening more and more frequently.

Fisher commented that he believes many students are peer pressured into drinking. He also stated that underage drinking can be lessened by stricter enforcement on education.

Not only do students suffer from drinking alcohol from a physical health perspective, but they also suffer academically.

According to a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking, including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall.

Along with a decline in a student’s academics, the consequences related to drinking alcohol while on campus are very severe.

If caught drinking on-campus or intoxicated, the first offense results in a written warning as well as a referral to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Program, which costs $45.00. The second offense results in permanent disciplinary probation and a second referral to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Program, which costs $70.00 the second time around. Finally, the third offense results in the minimum of a one-semester suspension from the university.

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