Teen alcohol, substance abuse discussed at Oak Park forum
John FS Williams, director of youth services for Oak Park and River Forest Townships, talks about alcohol statistics during the Teen Alcohol and Substance Abuse Forum. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:13AM
OAK PARK — Teen alcohol and drug use were the topics of a forum Wednesday hosted by the group Parents and Community Together to Reduce Youth Drug and Alcohol Use.
IMP.A.C.T chairwoman Kristine Raino-Ogden moderated. Local ordinance changes were among the topics included in Wednesday’s forum.
“We want to focus on early intervention rather than punishment,” she said Wednesday.
New local ordinances regarding youth tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and social hosting are meant to be more therapeutic than punitive, officials say.
“We are hoping the new laws give kids a second chance to make things right,” Oak Park Chief of Police Rick Tanksley said.
While the ordinances still have consequences, they are more rehabilitative than previous years. Tobacco, marijuana and alcohol remain illegal for minors, but police can issue a local citation to violators rather than charge them with a misdemeanor.
This will not appear as a criminal record.
John FS Williams, youth services director for Oak Park and River Forest townships, provided some numbers Wednesday.
Seven hundred and seventy-one freshmen are enrolled at Oak Park-River Forest High School. According to a survey Williams shared with the audience, 21 percent of students have used alcohol in the past 30 days, the equivalent of 162 youths.
“Are you all cool with 162 13-year-olds drinking?” Williams asked.