Underage drinking in Lancaster Co. exceeds national rate - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Underage drinking in Lancaster Co. exceeds national rate

LANCASTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) -

Lancaster County is ahead of the national rate when it comes to underage drinking.

It's probably one of the tougher conversations to have with your child, but underage drinking is a growing problem nationwide, especially in Lancaster County.

According to a recent federal report, 31.9% of Lancaster County youth, ages 12-20, reported using alcohol within the past 30 days… that's 7.6% higher than the national average.

More disturbing, that number jumps to 40.1% in teens 17 and older.

"That's kind of shocking hear, really. I wouldn't have thought that here in Lancaster," said parent Timmy Hunter.

Hunter says he talks with his children constantly about the dangers of underage drinking and the consequences that come along with them.

"With underage drinking these days, they'll jump behind a wheel in a minute and if you kill somebody while you're drinking, you have to live with that for the rest of your life," he continued.

Lancaster County Health Officials say what's even more disturbing about these numbers is the likelihood of teens depending on alcohol later in life.

"What research is shown is that if a youth starts drinking at age 15, they are four times more likely to have problems with alcohol later in life," said Lancaster County Coalition for Healthy Youth Chairwoman Donna Herchek.

"You have to sit down with your kids and actually and explain it to them," said parent Lisa Vincent.

Lancaster County Coalition for Healthy Youth officials agree with parent Lisa Vincent.

Officials add monitoring your child's activity and locking away alcohol in the home helps when it comes to deterring underage drinking.

"Even though we sit here and talk about this, it sounds like we're preaching it and sometimes youth don't want to hear it, they always need to know we want to help you," said Herchek.

It could be the difference between life and death.

Officials say the 30-day alcohol use rate among Lancaster County youth had declined beginning in 2008, but the new survey indicates the rate has recently significantly increased

To learn more about the Lancaster County Coalition for Healthy Youth and the report, click here.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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