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October 5, 2007

Thoughts on the beverage ban?

Morning readers!

Today my story ran about high school’s cracking down on underage drinking at sporting events through the use of beverage bans. Essentially, all fans are prohibited from bringing beverages into football stadiums. And yes, that includes water bottles.

I found out about the ban from an e-mail that was sent home this week to parents at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. School officials enacted the ban after several students were drinking in the bleachers during games.

In addition to Wilde Lake, Centennial High in Ellicott City has also enacted the ban. I’m now hearing that Atholton High in Columbia also has a ban.

While researching this story, I discovered that Baltimore City has a systemwide beverage ban. Harford, Carroll, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties do not.

In Harford County, high school principals observe students during games and can ask someone suspected of drinking to take a breath test. During the past three years, each high school in Harford County has been equipped with a breath alcohol tester.

I recently learned that a high school in the Midwest makes students take a breath test before allowing them entrance into school events.

What do you think about this? Are these effective ways to curb drinking at sporting events? Do you think that the beverage ban – it applies to all spectators at games – is excessive. Weigh in. I’ll be responding to comments all day.

I got this e-mail from Dennis Sirman:

According to the Sun's report on teen alcohol use at athletic events ("Beverage ban aims to curtail teen alcohol use"), the problem is widespread and "alarming." As a former athletic administrator at Hereford and Catonsville High Schools and assistant principal at Loch Raven High, I find it hard to understand why addressing this problem is so difficult.

First and foremost, let me refer to the long-standing policy in Baltimore County wherein any student found in possession of alcohol or drugs or under the influence of same at ANY BCPS EVENT is referred to the superintendent's designee for expulsion from his/her home school. This usually results in a suspension lasting two quarters. The student has an option of attending alternative school or receiving limited home teaching during that period. This policy is, and has been, a substantial deterent.

Additionally, at most Baltimore County schools (where entrance to events can be controlled -- such as at stadiums or gymnasiums) outside drinks and containers are not allowed. Some exception is made for adults and/or families with small children who bring "fast food."

Finally, at major BCPS events, County police -- often the school's resource officer -- are in attendance. Their presence acts as a deterent and if necessary they intervene when necessary to address substance use. Arrest and criminal charges may result.

When all appropriate steps are taken -- such as those cited -- and students are convinced that violation of the law and school policy will not be tolerated and that consequences are well-known and enforced, the problem of teens drinking at sports events will be significantly diminished if not eliminated.

My response:


Most school systems have fairly strict punishments for students caught with alcohol. These punishments have not deterred students in Howard County and school systems acorss the country.
Officials in Howard County will probably object to the fast food exception because many of the students have been disguising alcohol in beverage containers. Teens are extremely smart. They will find ways to conceal their alcohol. A cup of soda from Wendy's can easily be replaced or mixed with alcohol. And unfortunately schools cannot rely on parents and other family members to do the right thing. There have been reports about parents who provide their children with alcohol. Heck, a couple in Virginia was recently sentenced to jail time after providing alcohol at their child's party.
Both of the schools in Howard County have police officers on duty at all games, so that argument does not really hold much weight.
The old tactics are not working. Something needs to be done. And these schools think they have found a more effective way to combat underage drinking.


Do you have a comment? Please feel free to weigh in. 


Posted by John-John Williams IV at 10:40 AM | | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)
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While Howard County has some impressive results on test scores, too many of its kids are sorely lacking in common sense, morality, and decency. Life in suburbia ain't all it's cracked up to be. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."

Too many HoCo familes have both parents working (how could they afford to live there otherwise?) which means TV, questionable music lyrics, violent video games, the internet, and relelntless peer pressure are having much more impact on kids than their parents' best wishes are. Is it really worth it?

Will it help? Probably not enough, but it will. Just because you accept the inevitability of teenage drinking doesn't mean you're required to make it EASY.

Do the school authorities believe that the ban on liquids at school functions will stop the kids from drinking the booze that had to be left in the car? To me, a more likely scenario is that the kids will just drink the booze after the game/event.

Perhaps underage possession of alcohol should be a crime (as opposed to a civil violation). This business of making underage drinking a civil offense tells the kids, "Oh, it is no big deal, but rather much like a parking ticket."

Did you actually READ what I said? I SAID -- "No outside food or drink is allowed in Balto. Co. (Unless a family-mom,dad, little kids with Mickey D's and we can check that.) Essentailly the same as Howard County proposes. I SUPPORT THEM. Pay attention. It appears you have the journalism skills of a hamster.

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