Posted Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The Morris County Freeholders have issued a proclamation in support of a community awareness campaign to prevent underage drinking.

The campaign, called “Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don’t be a Party to Teenage Drinking,” is sponsored in Morris County by Morris County Prevention Is Key, Morris County Partners in Substance Abuse Prevention, the county’s Department of Human Services, St. Clare’s Health System, Morris County Municipal Alliances, the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.

During the campaign, 17 Municipal Alliances will be displaying and distributing public awareness and educational materials throughout the county, including banners, lawn signs and brochures. Area pizzerias will also be involved, displaying stickers on their pizza boxes in an effort to spread the word.

Steve Nebesni, Municipal Alliance Coordinator, said the aim of the campaign is to bring attention to the subject of underage drinking and send a message to parents and students that it is not only illegal, but unsafe, unhealthy and unacceptable.

The proclamation issued by the board of freeholders points out that underage drinking is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes, 50 percent to 65 percent of youth suicides, and is also linked to as many as two-thirds of all sexual assaults and date rapes of teens and college students.

As for adults, Nebesni said anyone found guilty of providing alcohol to youth can face fines and potential jail time or community service, in addition to any civil action that can be brought as a result of damages or injury related to the offense.

The freeholder proclamation notes that adults have the authority and responsibility to our youth to provide them with alternative opportunities by creating alcohol free activities. The proclamation urges all Morris County residents to refuse to provide alcoholic beverages to those below the legal drinking age of 21.

The campaign will run until the end of June, through prom and graduation season, although the message is one to be remembered throughout the year, Nebesni said.