BARSTOW — As Barstow Unified School District students enter their first full week of summer vacation, the Substance Abuse Free Environment Coalition sent out its final postcards to homes in hopes of helping to curb underage drinking.
The campaign is intended to serve as a "timely" reminder during summer vacation, a period where an increase in free time can lead to dangerous behavior, according to SAFE Coalition Chair DeeDe Crigler.
"This season is a time for celebrating the accomplishments of our youth and pushing them toward continuing to pursue their dreams," BUSD superintendent Jeff Malan said. "As we celebrate these accomplishments, we remind everyone to do so in a safe and responsible manner. The SAFE Coalition's poster campaign reminds parents and students of the importance of being safe and responsible at all times."
The Coalition began sending out postcards to local households weekly, beginning during spring break.
The campaign reminded parents and students to be vigilant of underage drinking or substance abuse during year-end parties and celebrations. The postcards targeted families within Barstow with students in middle or high school.
Postcards also highlighted the city's Social Host Ordinance. A party host can be fined up to $100 for the first violation and $500 for the third, according to the ordinance. City officials can also seek to recover costs by billing the host for law enforcement and emergency personnel services required to shut down a party.
"These postcards are a great way for parents to start the conversation about underage drinking and marijuana use with their kids," Crigler said. "They've come just in time for graduation and summer, and give parents the language and awareness to really tackle these issues with their kids before anything happens."
According to a report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more teenagers start drinking in June and July than in any other months. On average, more than 11,000 teenagers drink alcohol for the first time daily in June and July. The daily number drops to between 5,000 to 8,000 teenagers during the other 10 months.
Meanwhile, underage drinking related expenses, including risky behavior, crime, injuries and death, cost the city of Barstow about $9.5 million a year, according to a report from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.
A call to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation for further comment was not immediately returned Monday.
To report an underage drinking party within city limits, call the Barstow Police Department at 760-256-2211. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the WeTip Hotline at 800-782-7463.