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Last Saturday, on the occasion of National Youth Service Weekend, local teens worked with the Juneau Alcohol Beverage Retailers Association to educate customers about Alaska's alcohol laws through a project called "Sticker Shock." These youth and their parents entered local stores to attach warning stickers on the bags in which alcohol purchases are placed. The stickers warn customers of the penalties for adults who provide alcohol to minors: Up to $10,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail for a first offense.
The high school students are part of Youth In Action - a division of Mothers Against Drunk Driving - a teen group that is dedicated to preventing underage drinking. The teens were accompanied by their parents because of an Alaskan law that prohibits anyone under 21 from entering a bar or liquor store without their parent. The penalty is $1000 just for entering.
The Youth In Action teens gave a variety of reasons for their interest in this project and in preventing underage drinking.
"A lot of underage people are dying from alcohol-related accidents. I think we should be trying anything we can to stop this from happening," explained Monique Mickelsen.
Sam Cashen, another teen said, " When my grampa was killed by a drunk driver, I gained a new perspective on everything. I just don't want someone else to go through what I had to."
"All alcohol retailers are concerned about underage drinking. This is an issue we deal with daily. We want to make a positive impact on our community," said Jack Manning, president of JABRA. This local business group has membership among all local beverage licensees and is an affiliate of CHARR - Cabaret, Hotel, and Restaurant Retailers Association.
Youth In Action Coordinator Jessica Paris said, "We are very pleased to have our youth and our stores concerned and working together on this issue. We need all the adults of our community to refuse to provide alcohol to our teens if we want to stop the major social problems of underage drinking. If problems associated with underage drinking like teen death, pregnancy, vandalism, and violence aren't enough to convince adults not to give alcohol to teens, we hope their own legal culpability is."
The 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered to 1346 Juneau high school students reveals the prevalence of underage drinking in Juneau. 80 percent of students reported having consumed at least one alcoholic beverage in their life. 40 percent of students said they had consumed at least one drink in the last 30 days. Furthermore, in a survey conducted last year by C&S Management Associates, 36 percent of Juneau's 6th graders said they had at least one drink of alcohol in the past year.