Zero-tolerance policy in effect

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2005

Tonight kicks off the 2005 prom season with Greenville High School’s annual rite of passage for its juniors and seniors.

Students have worked all week after school transforming the school’s gym into some exotic locale for this one special evening. Many students will turn out at Greenville High’s junior and senior party, they’ll have their picture taken for their parents’ wall and then some may leave for the night.

This is often the case at every school prom in the area.

The students see a night to party without being seen.

Here’s a quick tip for those attending:

Law enforcement officers are watching.

Sheriff Diane Harris said she and her department plan to be on extra alert during the prom season this year to ensure that everyone comes through alive.

&uot;It happens every year when prom season comes along that we have a lot of teenagers who decide to drink and drive,&uot; she said.

&uot;There is never a good result of this happening. One, it’s illegal from the get-go.

Two, they can’t control themselves.&uot;

Harris said several years ago she responded to a car accident involving teenagers who had partied at their prom just a few hours before.

&uot;They left the prom and drank alcohol and became intoxicated,&uot; she said.

&uot;There were fatalities.

Everyone didn’t make it home that night.&uot;

David Brantley, headmaster at Fort Dale Academy, wants parents of all students, regardless of where they attend high school, to take a proactive approach to their children’s safety. Last year, Brantley was instrumental in forming the Underage Drinking Coalition that brought together school, business and law enforcement leaders together with the common goal of stopping underage drinking.

On Friday, he said this is a critical time of year for students and parents.

&uot;This is a time of year when we grow even more concerned, because traditionally, spring is an active time for high school students,&uot; he said Friday afternoon. &uot; With all the proms and additional parties, parents need to be proactive in knowing where their children are going, who they will go with and who will chaperone them.&uot;

He said at Fort Dale, they continually stress to students the importance of making good decisions and using sound judgment.

&uot;We, the schools, cannot do this alone,&uot; he said.

&uot;Parents need to stress this to their high school aged children and they need to stress to them at underage drinking is not a rite of passage.&uot;

He said Fort Dale takes extra precautions during the prom to make sure there is no one using alcohol.

However, the actual prom usually isn’t the problem.

&uot;The dangerous time during prom season is that time after the prom is over and the students attend prom breakfasts and other parties,&uot; he said.

&uot;This is the time when parents need to step up and they need to know where their children are and who is supervising them.&uot;

Sheriff Harris said the result of underage drinking is absolute.

&uot;First, unless they’re 21, they shouldn’t be drinking in the first place,&uot; she said.

&uot;And if we catch them drinking and driving, they will go to jail.

There will be no discussion about it.

If they are over 18, they will be placed in the Butler County Jail.

Those under 18, will be turned over to juvenile authorities for detention.&uot;

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, most teens are not drinking.

However, the ones who do are statistically more likely to be involved in a serious accident.

Alcohol in the number one youth drug problem and kills six times more people under 21 than all other illicit drugs combined.

The Parenting is Prevention program offers the following tips for teaching your children about underage drinking and its consequences.

N Set a good example for your children regarding the use of alcohol.

N Encourage your children to talk with you about their problems and concerns.


Get to know your children’s friends and discuss ways your children can avoid drinking when they are feeling pressured by peers.


Talk to other parents about ways to send a consistent, clear message that underage drinking is not acceptable behavior or a &uot;rite of passage.&uot;


Encourage your children to participate in supervised activities and events that are challenging, fun and alcohol free.


Learn the warning signs that indicate your children may be drinking and act promptly to get help.

n Make sure you’re at home for all your children’s parties and be sure those parties are alcohol free.

And parents need to remember that if they allow their child to have a party and alcohol is served on the parents’ property, they can go to jail!