Law enforcement and parents speak out against underage drinking

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)--Now that prom season is here and graduation is coming up, law enforcement agencies want parents to take a proactive approach in preventing their underage kids from drinking.

“Parents, who host, lose the most” campaign has been around for five years in Eau Claire County.

“We're trying to get it across to parents that they are the reason whether or not kids choose to drink alcohol. Many parents may not believe that because they've heard so much about the influence of peers and culture,” said campaign representative with the Eau Claire City County Health Department, Kristin Hildebrand.

Hildebrand says research suggests when kids drink at home they drink more. And it doesn't keep them from traffic accidents and health issues that are linked to underage drinking.

“Parents might think that they're protecting their kids by having them have an alcohol party at home, they're actually setting them up for just as much risk,” said Hildebrand.

The Eau Claire City County Health Department's research shows 4-in-10 young people in the county don't think beer is bad for them.
It turns out: kids who try their first drink before age 15 are more likely to develop alcohol dependence.

“We (parents) can control less than we think… things can spin quickly out of control,” explained Hildebrand.

When a parent hosts and underage party and serves up alcohol, the fine can be up to 500-dollars per person.

“Some think it's a rite of passage at graduation and the prom season and we just want to remind them that it's illegal, you can have fun other ways,” said Barron County Sheriff, Chris Fitzgerald.

Hildebrand is a mother of three. She says she talks to her children about risks involved in underage drinking, and urges other parents to do the same.

“I love my kids, I want them to be healthy; I want to celebrate the rest of their life with them,” said Hildebrand.

“Have that conversation with them (your kids), talk to them about making the right decisions and making it a night to remember, not to forget,” added Fitzgerald.

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