WILMINGTON -- What can you do to address the issue of underage drinking? A local organization called Coastal Horizons posed that question to parents at Thursday nights town hall meeting. A panel of community leaders and students said that parents have the greatest influence on whether a child drinks. The panel suggests that parents need to step up to the plate and be more engaging in theirs childs life. Coastal Horizons Committee member Nona Fitchett says parents shouldn't try to be friends with their child. Her 17-year-old son sat on the panel. Fitchett believes parents have to let their children know that alcohol is not acceptable. "I constantly talk to him about consequences of your actions and just because you're a big guy doesn't mean that you're old enough to engage in certain things". In a recent New Hanover County Schools survey, 47% of highschool students had taken a drink within 30 days of taking the survey. 15% had their first drink before the age of thirteen. all the more reason why Fitchett believes parents are vital to stopping underage drinking. "It's ok for your kid to close the door if they're mad at you, because you're the parent and you have to instill those values". Experts say young people who know that their parents are against underage drinking are less likely to drink.
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