But reports show some kids are replacing the books with alcoholic beverages.
"Kids find it hard to find something constructive to do, so they typically will lean toward some of the more negative things, things that they have access to. We all know alcohol is a lot of times accessible in homes,” said SpectraCare Prevention Services Director Ebony Crews.
The Center for Disease Control reports alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the country among youth.
It also reports people between the ages of 12 and 20 years old drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S.
"We are noticing that underage drinking is definitely a safety issue, and a health issue, typically,” Crews said. “Kids aren't able to determine their use of alcohol, because their brains aren't fully developed, so they don't make great decisions all the time.”
And all too often, those decisions land kids at juvenile court.
"Minor possession of alcohol has gone unnoticed or unfocused on, most recently. But it is a problem in that the legal age of drinking alcohol is 21 years old," said Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Angela Underwood, who works with children through the Houston County Juvenile Court System.
She says some of those instances include children caught with alcohol at parties that go on when parents are away, traffic violations involving alcohol, and kids who are already on probation but found with alcohol. But local agencies are working to prevent these problems before they start.
"We refer them to counseling, and Counseling Services of Dothan has been one of our main referring resources for minor possession of alcohol. If it's a first-time offense, we refer them to our Juvenile Counseling Committee, who will refer them for counseling or follow up with education,” Underwood said.
But she says parents can help prevent underage drinking by carefully monitoring kids’ activities at home.
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