Monday, July 27, 2009

Editorial from The Des Moines Register

By: Mike Wellman

I haven't had a drink in over 15 years. Before that I had too many, starting when I was a teenager.I ran a saloon for a long time, too, and sold a lot of booze to a lot of people - sometimes, unavoidably, too much at a time; sometimes, unwittingly, to people too young [although I'll never forget the angry mother who called to complain because her 21-year-old wasn't served at my pub one Thanksgiving Eve].Now I'm a parent of three kids at different stages of passage through the jagged straits of teen society.

I've looked at the issue of underage drinking from a lot of angles over the years. It's still hard to get a clear view of it.But that doesn't stop folks from having and voicing strong opinions when a high-profile attorney who is married to the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court gets caught seemingly hosting a bonfire/cocktail party with an exclusively teenaged guest list.It's not for me to comment on that specific case. Let it run its legal course. But whatever the disposition of all the charges filed in the matter, the nagging question of what to do about teen drinking will remain nagging.

There seems to be a growing school of thought in the parental ranks these days that since drinking is as natural a part of the teenage years as acne, the best that can be achieved is some measure of containment. This attitude results in tactics that amount to appeasement, e.g., providing alcohol at private, chaperoned events and thereby - so the thinking goes - preventing the real bogeymen, drunken driving and/or drugs, from crashing the party.

Both personal and professional experience have taught me that controlled drinking is as mythical as a centaur; equal parts red herring and pink elephant.While it may be impossible for parents to enforce a rule of total abstinence from alcohol by their minor children, it is absolutely within their power to disapprove of underage drinking and refuse to facilitate it. They are also empowered to impose their own consequences, and allow others ranging from hangovers to loss of school privileges to take their toll in reasonable hope of deterring the sort of binge drinking that has always been commonplace among young people - even the vast majority who are not wired to become chronic problem drinkers.

True, forbidden drinking is more likely to be taken to the streets where dangers lurk that aren't present at the backyard fire pit with parents on duty as designated drivers. But when I was a teenager I would rather have been out and about teetotaling with my friends than stuck at home social drinking under parental supervision. Maybe that's changed over the years. Lots of other things certainly have.The parents who provide their kids with kegs and limo rides in celebration of the senior prom are the same ones who started the silliness of graduation ceremonies at the grade-school level and can't see that their prodigies have more gear than game as they charge blindly through the forest of youth sports.

Here's a question for the event planners who recklessly tiptoe through the minefield of chaperoned underage drinking: What makes you think you'll have any more luck teaching kids how to drink than you would teaching them not to do it at all?Odds probably are that our three kids will all succumb to the natural curiosity about alcohol before they're old enough to drink legally without our permission. If/when they do, it will be with their parents' understanding but not with our approval, and certainly not with our cooperation.

There's a reason the fine print on all the alcohol marketing in our culture says "please" drink responsibly. It's because responsible drinking can't be made mandatory, especially for teenagers. Not even yours.

MIKE WELLMAN lives in Des Moines. He is the author of "Far From the Trees: The Troubled Sons of an American Neighborhood." Contact: • July 23, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SAFE Coalition Partnership Assessment

The SAFE Coalition Partnership Assessment is now online!
Every year the coalition asks its members to take a quick 10-15 minute survey about the work of the coalition and their involvment. The coalition wants to ensure that members are getting something from the partnership as well as feeling like they are making a contribution to the change.

The coalition is asking that all members complete the online survey by August 31st so that results can be tallied and distrubuted in the fall.
The link to the survey is:

If you would prefer a paper copy of the survey please contact or at the number below.

If you have any questions about the survey feel free to contact the coalition office at 319-293-6412.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Does Your Business Sell Alcohol? Get the Facts!

Does your business sell alcohol? Do you have employees who need to be properly trained on how to check Id’s. If you answered yes to these questions this training is for you! If your business has not been trained- it should be! This training will help your employees to understand the laws associated with alcohol sales, as well as the consequences for selling to a minor. This training will help protect your business!

This is a FREE training available to any businesses in Van Buren County, it will teach employees the proper procedures for checking an id, how to spot a fake id, and how to deal with intoxicated customers- new information added to the training- is information on energy drinks containing alcohol, information about laws, and new research.

At the conclusion of the training, free materials are provided for the business to keep on site. These materials included:
· Laminated reference sheets with recent laws and facts about the consequences of selling to minors
· Information on how to properly ID a customer
· Examples of what a proper ID looks like
· A copy of the presentation to keep on hand in order to train future employees
· Door and window stickers reminding patrons that they will be carded

July Training Information:
Date: July 28th
Time: 10:00am & 6:00pm
Location: Roberts Memorial Center- Keosauqua
RSVP is required for this training; please contact 319-288-0912.

If your business is interested in this training but can not attend on this date, please contact the SAFE coalition to schedule a training date/time that will work for your employees. We want every business in the county to be trained!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 4th Safety

  • Alcohol is a major factor in fatal crashes during the July 4 holiday
  • In 2007, 34 percent of all drivers involved in traffic related crashes during the Fourth of July holiday period (6:00PM TUESDAY JULY 3 TO 5:59 AM THURSDAY JULY 5, 2007) possessed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
  • During the July 4th holiday period there were a total of 200 traffic related fatalities. Out of that number, 44 percent involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or higher.
  • In 2007, 41,059 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Out of that number 12,998 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin, so you can be alive to enjoy the next celebration
  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
  • Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
  • If you’re impaired, call a sober friend or family member so you are sure to get home safely;
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement.

  • Whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk. Impaired driving has serious consequences.

    · The tragedies and costs from drinking and driving impaired do not just end at the potential death, disfigurement, disability and injury caused by impaired drivers.

    · Driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal in every state. Yet too many people still ignore the law. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report over 1.4 million people were arrested for driving under the influence during 2006.

    · Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is not worth the risk. The consequences are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be really significant and not the way you want to celebrate the July 4th holiday.

    · People that break the law, often face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, other fines and court costs, car towing and repairs, lost time at work, etc.

  • Over the Limit. Under Arrest. This Fourth of July,

    This summer, don’t let your Fourth of July end in an arrest—or even worse, death. Make smart decisions. Plan ahead, so you can assure a safe way home. Whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk.

    Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. Don’t ever get behind a wheel of a vehicle when you are impaired.

    For more information, visit