Alcohol and kids - a volatile mix

By KUE DAVIS

IT'S your choice.

That's the message to underage drinkers from police and the Coffs Harbour Police and Community Youth Club (PCYC) this festive season, after police have detected 22 young people consuming alcohol in the past two weeks.

The message comes as a part of the 'Your Choice' underage drinking program that has been implemented by the Coffs/Clarence local area command in conjunction with the PCYC.

"Basically, Your Choice is a program aimed at educating young offenders that have been caught or detected committing the offence," senior constable Steve Jeffery said.

"Instead of issuing the offender with an infringement, they are referred to the Your Choice program."

Snr const Jeffery said Your Choice requires offenders to attend a two-hour meeting with their parent or legal guardian, and was an education session assisted by the Department of Health, police, youth workers, the Safe Party Squad and ambulance officers.

He said a number of Your Choice programs have been run at the PCYC in past months, and have been well received by parents and young people who have attended.

"Offenders are educated about the consequences of their actions. What we're trying to do is minimise the risk of malicious damages, assaults, street offences and anti-social behaviour that perpetrates as a result of alcohol."

Crime manager, Inspector Cameron Lindsay, said parents need to be aware of what their children are doing.

"A lot of the time we take these kids home and the comment from their parent is that they didn't know they were drinking," he said.

He also said underage drinkers are at risk of putting themselves in vulnerable situations.

"Young people tend not to know their limits, and can end up in vulnerable situations they wouldn't otherwise be in.

"This time of year there are a lot of social gatherings where there will be alcohol," Mr Lindsay said.

"People need to watch the alcohol and who is drinking it."

Police are reminding parents that supplying to a minor is an offence with a $5500 penalty.



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