Students fight back against underage drinking

NOTE: Kathy Staats emailed WEAU 13 News late Wednesday, saying the actual statistic she referred to in this story is that 68% of 12th graders (not 12-year-olds) have used alcohol in the last month in Eau Claire County.

As drivers and other people stopped to stare at the posters several of the students used as part of a human billboard near Clairemont Avenue in Eau Claire Wednesday afternoon, Memorial High School Senior Jessica Gumbert says she hopes they understood that it was an attempt to change what the Eau Claire City-County Health Department calls a problem of underage drinking.

“We are taking approaches that will get the message across and to pretty much put it in people's face that this isn't ok, and it's a risk that shouldn't be taken,” she said.

Gumbert and almost 80 others from North, Memorial, Regis, Altoona, Fall Creek, and Augusta high schools volunteered to learn about how drinking can affect the livers and brains of teenagers and children.

“Surveys say that most 12-year-olds, 68% actually, have used alcohol in the last month, in Eau Claire County,” said Kathy Staats, Youth Coordinator from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department (Kathy Staats emailed WEAU 13 News late Wednesday, saying the actual statistic she referred to in this story is that 68% of 12th graders (not 12-year-olds) have used alcohol in the last month in Eau Claire County.).

Then it was all about getting the word out with community campaigns like this one. The students cleaned off car windows and left cards calling for safe and sober driving.

"It's neat to see 29.43 when someone actually understands and connects to what we're showing."

Once they get back to school, another goal is to pass that message on to students that didn't attend the workshop today.

In fact, they're committing to taking part in an activism campaign once a month to spread the word.

“The tattoo ideas were amazing...going out to basketball games in the winter and stamping your hands, that's a really good way to get it out,” said Memorial Sophomore Ka Vue.

Jessica says she hopes the message is alarming, and that it's stronger than peer pressure in her community.

"Once you say no and you know why, it's so easy to say no again,” she said.

Now she's just hoping she can help convince her classmates and neighbors to follow that trend.

This is the second consecutive year for the SADD training in Eau Claire.

Eau Claire Police say a first-time underage drinking ticket would cost a 17 to 20-year-old more than $263. The department ticketed almost 1,700 underage drinkers in 2008.


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  • by Tom Location: EC on Mar 21, 2011 at 01:59 PM
    James you have your head in the sand. first of all your most likely old enough to remember 18 year old drink here in the state. Did not work then and will not work now. Second the State has a culture where we allow DUI to go on far to long. 10,11, 12 times. No big deal in this state. Go to any other surrounding state and the first DUI costs you your lic. Also in Germany yes they allow teens to drink. They also pull your lic for life if you ever have a DUI. Not even a second chance. I'm all for that law put here in WI we allow bartenders and liq companies to dictate law
  • by ThankYouKids Location: E.C. on Oct 23, 2010 at 01:26 PM
    I think it is so dumb that people blame everything on the parents. As a parent, you can only do so much. the rest is in your childrens' hands and you can only hope and pray that they will listen and be strong enough to stand up to the peer pressure and bullying that is ever so present in our schools. I work with children and I can not believe the stories they tell me. Things are not the same as they were 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Instead of people writing negative comments, why don't we commend these student for sticking up for a positive cause? If any of the student are reading this: thank you for what you are doing.
  • by Jay Location: EC on Oct 22, 2010 at 06:31 AM
    James, You are correct. We live a socially primitive, Victorian society and the sooner we realize human nature, the sooner we can begin to fix it.
  • by Student on Oct 21, 2010 at 05:24 AM
    They just dont understand, they havent hit freshman year of college....
  • by James on Oct 20, 2010 at 09:09 PM
    These students should be allowed to drink, always. IN Europe teenagers do, and they have very low rates of alcohol problems. Students need to learn proper ways of using this substance. They problem is not underage drinking, it is a societal (esp here in Wisc) problem. People here use booze as entertainment in and of itself, or as an escape. Then, they are allowed repeatedly to make poor choices related to it. Give young people the freedom to use alcohol as they wish, but sternly tell the rules and how breaking them will not be tolerated. Maybe we eventualy could have a generation that handles it properly. Right now, you are just dangling forbidden fruit in front of them. Sure, in ju nior High you got thier attention, but at 16? Make it not cool to get plastered and most kids will follow that. Right now you are just encouraging youthful rebellion, turning something that is psycologicaly normal into a very bad thing, at least by using this approach.
  • by resident on Oct 20, 2010 at 05:02 PM
    1700 underage violators!! Thank the parents! They are supposed to have control over their kids. They are the ones responsible to teach by example. NOT doing a very good job, are they?? MAYBE these parents should be required to attend parenting classes!
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