Prosecutors, attorneys and judges hold a leadership role in the community and have the ability to shape and influence community norms surrounding underage drinking. There are a few that are taking this opportunity to heart and we hope that trend continues as our communities need their help.
Our community has long recognized underage and youth binge drinking as a problem. Cobb County students reported binge drinking at a friend's house on the weekend more than other students in the state, according to the Georgia Student Health Survey which is administered each fall in public schools to students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12.
For every youth involved with the courts for minor-in-possession charges, there is some adult who provided the alcohol or at least contributed to the youths' access to it.
Recently, Cobb County Solicitor Barry Morgan publicly stated, as reported in this newspaper last week, his intention to exclude all furnishing-alcohol-to-minor cases from being eligible for diversion in Cobb County State Court. We believe this to be important, as this particular practice could influence current community norms that suggest adults are making it too easy for youth to get alcohol in Cobb.
There are about 1,000 minor-in-possession cases in Cobb State Court alone, every year.
The Cobb Alcohol Taskforce utilizes enforcement, policy and education strategies to change current community conditions that have been identified as contributing factors to underage drinking. Several research studies identified youth access to alcohol as a contributing factor; due in part to weak and inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws and weak and inconsistent parental monitoring and supervision of youth behavior.
We hope to engage prosecutors, judges and attorneys in a dialogue about how they see their role in our new Zero Adult Provider Project - aimed at decreasing the number of adults who provide alcohol to minors. We want to use evidence, just as the courts do, as we seek to make recommendations to support court best practices for underage drinking prevention.
When all sectors of the community work together on enforcement, policy and education strategies, we can reduce underage drinking and the myriad of social, health and safety costs attributed to it. Everyone can help. If you're interested, I hope you will contact us at www.cobbat.org.
Cobb Alcohol Taskforce