The heartbreaking situation in Steubenville has captured the nation’s attention and has called into question the role that social media, community leaders, sports and citizens have played in the lives of young people who live in this eastern Ohio city. It has made many question how this could have happened and, in turn, how could we avoid this situation from happening in the future.
One of the pieces, however, that seems to be getting lost in this tragedy is the role that alcohol played in this extremely troubling story. Many times, parents feel that if they take away the car keys when a child is using alcohol, then they have done their job in keeping children safe. However, alcohol use is often a factor in crimes committed by young people. According to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, an estimated 1,844 homicides; 949,400 nonfatal violent crimes such as rape, robbery and assault; and 1,811,300 property crimes including burglary, larceny, and car theft were attributable to underage drinking in 2009. Underage drinking cost society $25.1 billion in medical costs and loss of work nationally, as well. In Ohio alone, alcohol use by young people cost citizens of this state just over $1 billion and 4,178 young people ages 12-20 were admitted to treatment for alcohol abuse in 2009.
Communities need to work together to stop the alcohol-related violent crime that takes place in every neighborhood and parents need to understand that alcohol is a dangerous and addictive substance that should not play a part in any child’s life. Protect our communities and help all of our children grow up in safe and healthy environments.
Marcie Seidel, Executive Director
Drug Free Action Alliance