Opinion

Teen drinking | Editorial

The findings of the recent survey regarding the amount of alcohol consumed by high school seniors on Mercer Island is great news. So why don’t we feel better?

Most Island teens might laugh at the notion that fewer of their compatriots drink. Yes, drinking has declined, but the mystique or essence of cool that surrounds alcohol and drinking-to-excess lives on. A quick perusal of Facebook reveals that Island teens not only still drink, but seem to want to flaunt the fact that they do. Photos taken last week show a group of a dozen or so recent Mercer Island High School grads celebrating in a pool with drinks in hand. More cans of beer sit around them on the pool deck. The cans in the photo are ‘blacked out,’ but leave the obvious dimensions of a beer can intact.

The partiers aren’t worried about being discovered. At least they were not pictured near a car.

The near-death experience of a 20-year-old Island man who survived a recent crash after drinking just days ago might raise eyebrows for a minute or two, but is unlikely to deter many.

The young man, a recent MI grad himself, was driving with a friend on East Mercer Way on June 13. It was after dark. He lost control of the car, hit a tree or two and was propelled 70 feet down an embankment. Unbelievably, neither was hurt.

The professionals at Youth and Family Services have long worked with teens and their families to discourage drinking using the best ideas and methods. According to their numbers, there is progress. There is a growing faction of teens who refuse to take part in drinking.

The presence of counselors and role models — including Officer Jennifer Franklin, who spoke to the class of 2012 while they were in elementary school — has helped.

But it is an uphill battle. As long as alcohol use is seen as glamorous and grown-up, teens will be drawn to it. Not helping is the notion that wider access to alcohol (made possible via voter initiative to allow privatization of liquor sales) is practically viewed as a right.

 

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