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No healthy alcohol

Beware of claims that alcohol is good for you, especially if you are a minor, according to Staff Sgt. Douglas Perry of the Virginia National Guard.

During the “Safe Schools/Safe Communities” program at Martinsville High School on Wednesday night, Perry, who is with the Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force, recalled hearing news reports of how having a glass of wine or two each day might improve someone’s health, especially for the heart.

Exercise will “do far more” to improve a person’s health than any benefit alcohol may have, he told parents, adults and teenagers who attended the program.

Perry said research shows that alcohol prevents the body from fully benefiting from nutrients needed for growth and development.

Medical research has linked underage alcohol use with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, he said.

“While we’re growing and developing,” Perry said, “our brains continue to grow until about the age of 24,” so alcohol is not good for a person during that time.

Research also shows that “one night of binge drinking will set a teenager’s development back more than two weeks,” he said.

Information on the Internet shows binge drinking generally is considered to be five or more drinks in a row by males, and four or more drinks in a row by females, at least once in a two-week period.

In the United States, drinking alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21, noted Martinsville Police Officer T.J. Slaughter, who is the high school’s resource officer.

For the health and safety of teenagers, he suggested that parents who let their teens have parties at home chaperone those parties and make sure no alcohol — or drugs, for that matter — are available.

In doing so, Slaughter said parents should limit the number of people who can attend the party so the partiers can be closely watched.

Anyone who has not been invited should not be allowed into the party, and anyone who leaves should not be allowed back in, he said, adding that keeps guests from returning drunk and/or high on drugs.

Parents who let teens drink alcohol in their presence, and any adult who buys alcohol for teens, can be taken to court.

“You can be sued” for negligence, Slaughter told parents, if a minor gets drunk and then gets hurt or killed, or injures or kills someone else.

In that instance, getting hurt includes being sexually assaulted, he said.

Adults who buy alcohol for people under 21 will face a criminal charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor if they are caught by police, he said. The sentence is a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

The legal system in Virginia has “zero tolerance” for people under 21 using any amount of alcohol, Slaughter said. If police find that someone under that age has consumed alcohol, he said, the person can be charged with underage alcohol possession and/or driving under the influence.

Perry said parents who suspect their kids have been drinking should try to have a conversation with them, getting close enough to them to smell any alcohol that might be on their breath.

“I’m not saying don’t trust your kids. We need to trust them,” he said. But “trust and verify.”

source: Martinsville Bulletin

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