KINGMAN - The Mohave County Sheriff's Office and the Coalition for Successful Youth Development held two town hall meetings Saturday to discuss the topic of underage drinking in the Kingman area. The first meeting was held at 10 a.m. at the Hampton Inn. The second meeting was held at 3 p.m. at St. John's United Methodist Church on Kino Avenue.
Only a handful of people showed up for the first meeting. Sgt. Don Bischoff, a Mohave County Sheriff's Deputy and co-chair of the Coalition, conducted the meeting. Tammany McDaniel from Arizona Youth Partnership also attended the meeting.
Bischoff said he was disappointed about the turn out for the first meeting, but encouraged by the questions asked and answers given during the meeting.
Bischoff first asked the audience questions like: was underage drinking a problem in Kingman and the surrounding areas, was binge drinking a problem, was substance abuse a problem, which substances were most likely to be abused in the area?
He also asked if the community accept underage drinking, what negative influences in the community encourage underage drinking, and what approaches should the community take to combat underage drinking.
Audience members were also asked which age groups in the community had the biggest problem with drinking.
The audience at the first meeting seemed to think that the later years of junior high seemed to be the most likely time that children would start drinking.
"They want to be cool like the older kids," one woman said.
The group seemed to agree that children between the ages of 14 and 19 had the largest problem with underage drinking, because of peer pressure and how close some are to the age of being legally able to purchase alcohol.
The group thought that binge drinking was a nationwide problem not just a problem in Kingman.
They seemed to think it was a bigger problem with people over the age of 21.
This was because young people over the age of 21 can legally buy alcohol instead of having to depend on someone else to buy it for them.
The group thought that methamphetamine was the most abused substance in the Kingman area.
Bischoff produced a 2006 Arizona Youth Survey done of Kingman area students in the 8th-, 10th- and 12th-grades.
The results showed that an average of three percent of the students had used methamphetamine in the last 30 days and an average of 46.3 percent had used alcohol in the same time period.
One man said that Kingman has a reputation for being an area with a methamphetamine problem.
The group felt that the community did not accept underage drinking in general, but as a teen got closer to 21, it became more acceptable.
A major influence in the underage use of alcohol in the Kingman area was the lack of things for youth in the community to do.
"There's nothing to do except go to the movies or the park," said one teen that attended the meeting.
The group also listed lack of parental supervision, advertising on TV and peer pressure as influences.
The group agreed that spreading awareness of the problem, education about the problem to the community and enforcement was needed to control the problem for all age groups. The Coalition for Successful Youth Development meets twice a month to discuss alcohol, drug and other issues effecting Kingman's youth. For more information contact Tammany McDaniel the Colorado River regional director of Arizona Youth Partnership at 205-8996.
There was no one in attendance at the second town hall meeting.