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Preventing underage drinking is high priority for community
Preventing underage drinking is high priority for community
On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, the leaders of local law enforcement agencies including the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, Shelby Police Department, Kings Mountain Police Department, Boiling Springs Police Department and NC Highway Patrol came together to display their commitment to working with the Cleveland County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (SAPC) to prevent underage drinking in Cleveland County.
Driven by local data on the prevalence of underage drinking and the easy access to alcohol by underage drinkers, the SAPC has developed a Strategic Action Plan to prevent and reduce underage drinking in our county. The action plan contains strategies that target the two main ways young people often access alcohol according to youth surveys and focus group discussions: adults buying and supplying alcohol for underage drinkers, and alcohol retailers selling alcohol to underage drinkers.  
Today, local law enforcement agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the coalition to illustrate their commitment to assist the coalition in their efforts to prevent underage drinking.  This includes continuing to do such activities as training personnel on applicable rules and statutes governing underage drinking, implementing routine shoulder tap initiatives and conducting a minimum of one county-wide compliance check annually in addition to their regular compliance checks.  The Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will support the work of law enforcement on this initiative through the provision of educational materials for the public and implementation of a comprehensive, multi-level community awareness campaign.  
DeShay Oliver, SAPC Coordinator, says, “Our work is really targeted towards retailers and adults who may buy or supply alcohol for underage drinkers.  Reducing access to a substance is one of the most effective ways to prevent its use.  We want parents and all adults to understand the dangers associated with underage drinking and the important role they play in preventing it. Our message is ‘Don’t Buy!  Don’t Supply!  Prevent Underage Drinking!’ Our community coalition in partnership with local law enforcement will be working hard to get this message out.”  
The coalition’s work is driven by data such as the following:
• 41.9% of ninth grade students and 61.9% of twelfth grade students in Cleveland County consumed alcohol within the past year (Pride Survey, 2012).
• 23.3% of ninth grade students and 56.5% of twelfth grade students in Cleveland County reported alcohol is very easy to get (Pride Survey, 2012).  
• 67% of 9th grade students reported people under the age of 21 most commonly access alcohol by getting an older friend or sibling to purchase it for them.  Furthermore, 30.5% of students surveyed agreed that many youth who consume alcohol get strangers to buy it for them, and 20% reported that young people who drink often get their parents to buy it for them (*local youth survey, 2013).
• 28% of 9th grade students surveyed strongly agreed or agreed that they were aware of stores in Cleveland County that sell alcohol to persons under the age of 21 (*local youth survey, 2013).
• 39.5% of 9th grade students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that youth often use fake IDs to purchase alcohol (*local youth survey, 2013).
• 19 out of 76 (25%) off-premise alcohol outlets sold to underage persons during compliance checks conducted in 2012 (Shelby Police Department, Alcohol Beverage Control).  
*The local youth survey was administered to 400 ninth grade students in Cleveland County in all area high schools.

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