To the editor:
As the project director for Missouri's Youth/Adult Alliance, a statewide coalition whose sole purpose is to reduce underage drinking, I would like to address the Dec. 4 story, "More seek trial under alcohol possession law." The new legislation was a step in the right direction. Reducing underage drinking should be everyone's concern, and our coalition was delighted to see the legislature taking on this tough battle.
The average age of first alcohol use in Missouri is 12 years old. This is a full drink of alcohol, not a few sips. Prevention experts know that major damage occurs in adolescent bodies, especially their brains, when they consume alcohol. By initiating drinking before the legal age of 21, adolescents run a higher risk of alcohol addiction. We know that alcohol is the drug of choice for youths. The new legislation is not "picking on" our youths. It was designed to help them make the right decisions that will keep them safe and healthy.
The main reason for this type of legislation is to keep alcohol out of our youths' hands. It takes entire communities addressing the issue to make a difference. Please give this new legislation a chance to work. Let's show youth and adults that there are consequences for their actions. No one, even parents, should supply alcohol to youths. It is physically damaging for them. By having a lackadaisical attitude about underage drinking, you run the risk of leading the community to think that it is not a big deal.
ALICIA OZENBERGER, Missouri's Youth/Adult Alliance, Jefferson City, Mo.