Good Life

Communities that Care: Elders can impress the nature of State Patty’s Day violations on students

Another State Patty’s Day is just around the corner. Originally created by students because St. Patrick’s Day fell during spring break in 2007, the popularity of the pseudo-holiday has continued each year, along with the partying, the drinking, the arrests and the emergency room admissions. The event attracts out-of-towners as well as Penn State students to downtown bars and parties in student residences. It also brings worries to families who have concerns about risky behaviors in which young people may engage.

While it may seem like young people just don’t listen, parents, grandparents, teachers and others often have more influence than you might think. Young people say they rely on adults in their lives more than anyone else to help them make tough decisions and to provide good advice. Don’t be afraid to share your concerns. A frank, two-sided discussion of some of these topics could make a difference.

Social hosting: The law is clear on underage drinking. If you are 21 years old, you may consume alcohol. If you are younger than 21, you may not. If you have a party, you may not provide, give or allow any guests who are younger than 21 to possess alcohol. Under Pennsylvania social host liability laws, adults — anyone older than 21 — can be charged criminally for furnishing alcohol to minors.

Mixing alcohol and drugs: Mixing alcohol and other drugs can be a lethal. The synthetic drugs that are becoming more common are extremely dangerous because products can contain a wide range of different chemical formulations and potencies, the effects of which are largely unknown and unpredictable. Mixed with alcohol, the risk increases, sometimes resulting in overdoses, injuries and death. Since October 2012, seven Penn State students have fallen or jumped from dangerous heights. Whether suicide or accidental falls, the common denominator has been drugs, alcohol or a combination of both. Recent reports of deaths in Western Pennsylvania related to a mix of heroin and fentanyl, a powerful narcotic used to treat cancer patients’ pain, are additional cause for concern.

Medical amnesty: Alcohol poisoning is deadly, yet young people may be hesitant to call 911 because of fear of getting in trouble with the university and police. What they need to know is that Pennsylvania state law and Penn State Responsible Action Protocol grant amnesty to those who violate alcohol laws while seeking medical assistance for another.

Your degree doesn’t matter: We live in a community in which degrees are valued. However, what young people may not realize is that many careers — including nurses, teachers, accountants, engineers and even store cashiers and fast-food servers — may be simply unattainable if they have been convicted of an alcohol-related offense. One moment of bad judgment can jeopardize all of a student’s hard work and academic success. Too many young people find out the hard way that when it comes to getting a job, your degree doesn’t matter if you have an alcohol-related offense on your record.

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