March 24, 2010, 03:56 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff
Youth on the coast are advocating a different approach to curbing
under-age drinking: Hold the parents responsible.
On Monday, the Pacifica City Council supported an idea generated
by local teenagers to draft a social host ordinance. Such a measure
would hold adults responsible for underage drinking in their home,
regardless whether the adults are home when the drinking occurs. Local
teens hope by fining the adults, rather than going after the youth, will
create a more informed, more involved adult population ultimately
curbing the underage behavior. A draft ordinance will be brought back
before the council at a future meeting.
“I’m proud that our students are willing to focus on the roots of
the problem and all the potential consequences. That youth have written
a long-lasting policy is amazing,” Richard Boitano, associate
superintendent for education for the Jefferson Unified High School
District said in a prepared statement.
Young leaders from the Communities Mobilizing for Change on
Alcohol youth council, known as CMCA, a program through the Youth
Leadership Institute, presented the idea to Pacifica elected officials
Monday evening. Drinking issues have been of concern to Pacifica after
two teens were killed in a car crash in 2005
Oceana High School seniors Natasha Smith and Theo Smith, no
relation, were both suggested to the group by teachers during their
sophomore year. Both had experiences in some way relating to alcohol and
hopes of making some change locally. The group has worked for three
years leading to its proposal for a fine-based policy.
A peer-led survey found approximately four out of five young
people in Pacifica and Daly City (84.4 percent) saw other youth drink
alcohol at their home or someone else’s home, normally when adults are
not home, according to the YLI Youth Access Survey in 2009.
Natasha Smith was surprised at how honest people were about the
survey.“In a sense I was shocked at the number of youth who knew someone
who drank. It’s a high percentage of people. But at the same time, I
know a lot of people. So it didn’t really shock me,” she said.
Posted by Steve Sinai