With less than two weeks until graduation and prom happening this weekend for Enumclaw High School students, the urge to party is mounting. That beginning today, Friday, June 1, several as the state liquor store closes, may or may not add to the temptation to drink.
But before things get too wild, a local coalition of concerned citizens wants to make sure that teens -- and their parents and guardians in particular -- are aware of all the facts and consequences of underage drinking and drug use.
Last week, the Foothills Healthy Community Coalition, in partnership with both the Enumclaw and White River school districts and St. Elizabeth Hospital, sent a mailer home to the families of all high school seniors consisting of a letter from both superintendents and the brochure "Keeping Your Senior Safe During Graduation: A Parent Guide."
The brochure is available for download as a PDF with this story, and here are some important highlights that affect parents:
- Parents can be arrested and criminally charged for providing a place for minors to consume alcohol (RCW 66.44.270)
- Providing alcohol to minors is a gross misdemeanor, with a potential penalty of $5,000 and a year in jail.
Download the brochure PDF for helpful ideas and tips for keeping your teen(s) safe and planning safe parties in partnership with them.
"We all want our students to celebrate and enjoy this wonderfully exciting period in their lives," wrote Enumclaw schools superintendent Mike Nelson and EHS principal Jill Burnes. "All too often, we have heard of unfortunate tragedies involving seniors who are about to graduate or who have just graduated."
Tom Lockyer, White River schools superintendent, wrote to his district parents: "It is our hope that you will share your concerns with your senior and urge them to make good decisions. ... You have worked hard to get this far and we encourage you to celebrate responsibly."
Teens and parents might take a lesson from the death of 21-year-old Brandon Duprie, who was killed in an accident this past April in Orting that investigators said involved drug or alcohol. (Read the Tacoma News Tribune story.) There is a driver safety memorial in Enumclaw.
The Foothills Healthy Community Coalition is comprised of members from the Black Diamond, Enumclaw and Buckley communities and is one of five task forces overseen by the Enumclaw Regional Healthcare Foundation, said director Rene' Popke.
For more information about how you can start the conversation with your teen, visit Starttalkingnow.org, a project of the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD).