TARGETS TEENS’ ACCESS TO ALCOHOL
On a breezy fall evening under a spectacular sunset, a group of Police Explorers and volunteers descended SWAT-style upon local merchants. Their mission: Project Sticker Shock. Their target: bottles of alcohol. Their objective: remind adults it’s illegal to give alcohol to minors.
The operation that humid October night was part of a collaborative effort between the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition, the South Miami Police Explorers and local merchants to educate adults about the legal consequences of supplying alcohol to minors. Often viewed as a rite of passage by parents and other adults, teen drinking has as much to do with adult influence as it does with the actions of a peer group. In fact, research shows that parents are the primary reason kids choose not to drink or use drugs. Yet, about 20 percent of seniors report getting alcohol from a parent or someone older than 21.David Vittoria, South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment Center, works alongside Explorers to place stickers on cases of beer during Project Sticker Shock.
During the event, about 15 Explorers and coalition volunteers visited area merchants to place stickers on bottles of alcohol to remind adults not to buy alcohol legally and provide it illegally to minors. Part of the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition’s efforts to reduce underage drinking and drug use, Project Sticker Shock occurs twice a year and is funded through grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association and the South Miami Police Department’s (SMPD) drug-forfeiture fund. The coalition recently received a grant from the city that supports a number of initiatives, including Project Sticker Shock.
Founded in 2003 and sponsored by Informed Families, the coalition has worked in the community to keep kids from using alcohol and drugs. In addition to this project, the coalition collaborates on an underage drinking prevention campaign at South Miami Senior High, supports substance abuse prevention efforts at several area schools, facilitates a substance abuse screening and early intervention program in health care settings, operates an afterschool program that uses arts to teach prevention, supports the SMPD’s DUI checkpoints, and facilitates compliance checks in cooperation with SMPD and the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, which regulates sales of alcohol and tobacco products. The coalition has also hosted a number of community events, including Family Day celebrations, a Community Conversation, Community Service Fair and Youth Dialogue Day.Members of the South Miami Police Explorers Post #256 pose with South Miami Drug-Free Coalition members prior to the start of Project Sticker Shock in October. From left: Explorer Keneth Sanchez, Explorer Justin Shepard, SMDFC member Raquel Hickey, Captain Yessica Martin, Rooney Brodie, Major Cristopher Zambrana, SMDFC Director Margaret Sotham, SMDFC member David Vittoria, Explorer Daynel Valdes, Sgt. Melanie Veira, SMDFC member Mary Scott Russell, Explorer Jennifer Morales, Acting Sgt. Luis Sanchez, Explorer Ian Casero and Sgt. Jordan Granadillo.
For more information about the coalition or to get involved, please contact Margaret Sotham, [email protected]dfamilies.org.