The Lawrence Task Force to Address Underage Drinking will offer a free forum at 6:30 p.m. March 31 at the Lawrence-Douglas County Community Health Facility, 200 Maine.
Lawrence parents have an opportunity to help curb underage drinking.
"As our children become more independent, we all have a responsibility to ensure they are provided the tools to make healthy choices around the use of alcohol," said Rich Minder, a Lawrence school board member.
Representatives from several agencies have formed the Lawrence Task Force to Address Underage Drinking, and the group will conduct a free forum at 6:30 p.m. March 31 at the Lawrence-Douglas County Community Health Facility, 200 Maine.
Of concern are results from a Kansas Communities that Care survey given to students in Douglas County last school year. On the survey, 10.4 percent of eighth-graders who responded said they had five or more alcoholic drinks in a row at least two weeks prior. That's compared with the state average of 9.3 percent, according to the survey.
Members of the task force include representatives of the school district, law enforcement, the business community, parents, DCCCA and the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project. They met last Thursday.
"We've got a lot of people coming to the table at the right time," said Jen Jordan Brinkerhoff, director of the Regional Prevention Center at DCCCA, an organization whose mission includes prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse.
The group is planning the town hall meeting to help encourage parents, teachers and other adults to learn more about preventing underage drinking. Topics covered will include how to talk to kids about alcohol and drugs, how to tell whether they are using them and genetic links to alcoholism.
Brinkerhoff also said she planned to work more with Kansas University to talk about underage drinking.
The Kansas Highway Patrol and Lawrence Police Department are two sponsors for the town hall meeting.
In the last five months, Lawrence police officers have tried to raise awareness about problems with underage drinking. Using state grant money, between Jan. 31 and Feb. 8 officers conducted compliance checks at Lawrence retail stores. Underage buyers, who were 18 or 19 years old, were able to purchase alcohol at 15 of 56 stores, or approximately 27 percent, according to a statement from Sgt. Dan Ward.
The Police Department plans to continue the random checks.
To learn more about the task force or the forum, call Brinkerhoff at 841-4138 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.