TULSA, OK – [May 17, 2016] – High school graduation is one of the most exciting times of a person’s life. An entire future awaits – college, military service, a new job, marriage – the possibilities are endless.
Graduation is a time in which young people may wish to celebrate with their friends, but it may also be a time in which youth go to parties and drink alcohol, often engaging in binge drinking. The Tulsa Health Department’s Regional Prevention Coordinator (RPC) program encourages parents to take steps to prevent underage drinking.
Accidents are the most common cause of death in young persons. Drivers age 16-20 have the greatest risk for fatal car crashes; they are 17 times more likely to get in a car crash when they are drunk than when they are sober.
According to the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment (OPNA) survey, just under 45% of high school seniors in Tulsa County have consumed alcohol in the last 30 days and 26% have indulged in binge drinking within the past two weeks. Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks in a row with the intent to become ‘wasted.’ Many of these young people will also attempt to drive or ride with someone who has also been drinking.
“Parents, please do not let graduation be a time of tragedy,” said Marianne Long, Tulsa Health Department program manager. “Talk to your children about the dangers of impaired driving. Set up a procedure to follow if your children find themselves in a situation in which they need a ride home or feel uncomfortable. Establish rules regarding graduation activities and parties which they must follow.”
Oklahoma is a social host law state. This law forbids a person who owns or controls a premise to allow youth under 21 to drink alcohol on that premise. The person may be charged with a misdemeanor and fine with subsequent offenses resulting in felony charges. If a youth is injured or killed at a party in which alcohol is consumed, the owner of that property may be charged with a felony.
“Please help to make the memories of high school graduation be ones of joy and anticipation of the future, not one of tragedy and sorrow,” said Long.
Regional Prevention Coordinators
Regional Prevention Coordinators is a grant funded program established to reduce the rates for underage drinking, adult binge drinking, and the non-medical use of painkillers within Tulsa County. The work of RPC is concentrated on population-level change in Tulsa County by assisting communities in determining the substance abuse problems affecting their constituents and the most effective strategies to address these problems. RPC works with local coalitions and stakeholders to gather data, track trends, and provide training and technical assistance within the community. Additionally, RPC provides support for town hall meetings and assists with local alcohol compliance operations.
For more information regarding the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment or the Regional Prevention Coordinator (RPC) program at the Tulsa Health Department, please visit www.tulsa-health.org.