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County Fights Teen Drinking in Prom Season

May is declared "Parents Who Host Lose the Most" month.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is urging parents not to give their teens alcohol — especially now that it’s high school prom and graduation season.

In partnership with the Unified Prevention Coalition (UPC) of Fairfax County, the board has proclaimed May “Parents Who Host Lose the Most” month in the region. Together, they are making a concerted effort to educate parents and their teens about the effects and health risks of teen drinking.

According to the 2010-11 Fairfax County Youth Survey, 20 percent of high school seniors reported binge drinking during the last two weeks and 36.5 percent of them had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.  The survey also revealed that 20 percent of 10th graders consumed alcohol in the last 30 days.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay said he was proud of UPC for educating the county’s youth and keeping them safe during “what should be a great time in their lives.”

“We’ve made some major strides in the prevention of drinking and driving generally,” McKay said, “but we continue to have challenges with our youngsters, especially as they’re celebrating major events in their lives – milestones such as prom and graduation.”

Diane Eckert, executive director of UPC, thanked the board for its recognition of the program. “We are committed … to change the culture in Virginia and in Fairfax County,” Eckert said.

According to a UPC release detailing the “Parents Who Host Lose the Most” initiative, 65 percent of underage youth say they get alcohol from family and friends.

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control website says: "It is against state law to allow (aid or abet) underage persons to possess or consume alcohol. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Purchasing for and/or giving alcohol to a minor is also against the law, and penalties can include losing a driver's license for up to a year."

“Every year around this time of year we hear stories of our youngsters in the region who are involved in drinking and driving accidents and one accident is too many,” McKay said.

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