A Letter to the Community
Dear Parents and Residents of Clarke County:
Summer vacation is fast approaching and that means that our young people have a lot of time on their hands. Please help our children remain safe and protect them from negative outside influences and peer pressure regarding underage drinking and/or illegal drug-use. As always, we as parents and citizens need to remain (and even increase) our vigilance regarding underage drinking. All the research shows that responsible parents are the most capable at influencing our young people to curb and help eliminate underage drinking; parents have the authority, the knowledge, and the influence to guide and inspire their children to not make destructive decisions. We need to all work together as a community this summer, as during any other time of the year, to not abdicate our responsibility as adults when it comes to teaching all aspects of life to our young citizens.
Underage drinking often increases more during the summer months, and the youth of Clarke County are no different than any other children across this nation. Specifically, after graduation, high school students in many parts of Virginia often go off in groups in June to celebrate their graduation – many times to the local beaches in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, or South Carolina. This time is often referred to as “beach week.” Beach week, unfortunately, has become more of a time to get intoxicated for many high school graduates, which often leads to many serious injuries, lawsuits, arrests, risky sexual behavior, and sometimes even death.
If you have a child traveling to a “beach-week” destination, you need to be reminded of some simple points. The legal drinking age is 21, and if you sign an agreement for a rental house as “the-adult” you are liable for all that goes on in that house, including injuries due to either negligence or improper supervision.
As always, you can call law enforcement if you suspect underage drinking and drug use at a house in our community. Law enforcement is obliged to check any calls of concerns (call anonymously if you prefer). Alert other parents of suspected illegal party locations, stress to your children and let them know your feelings and concerns about these types of illegal activities. Indeed, studies have shown that the number-one reason why teens say they do NOT drink is that they do not want to disappoint their parents. We need to work together and be aware and well-informed about helping to create a safer environment for our young people. Together we can make a difference.
John Werner, Principal, Clarke County High School
Anthony Roper, Sheriff, Clarke County