Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories




– September 15, 2002



of Problem










With support from the OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program, enforcement agencies, community organizations, youth, and other concerned citizens are working collaboratively to identify key issues and to implement effective enforcement strategies to reduce underage drinking and youth access to alcohol.


Playing It

Straight ?
Athletes and Alcohol in Nevada

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) is introducing a new policy to address drinking and other drug use by high-school athletes. 

In Nevada, as in other states, underage drinking is a problem for high-school athletics programs. The culture of drinking and sports infuses everything from celebrations to hazing and initiation rituals. The problem is not limited only to athletes, but is strongly associated with athletics and competition. 

The patchwork of authority across the State made it difficult to apply a single standard; every county in Nevada is a separate school district, with autonomy to set its own policy on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Nearly 90% of Nevada?s school-age youth live in just two counties, Clark and Washoe, while the rest are scattered across smaller or rural communities. In these communities, small schools were unwilling to punish star athletes for lack of ready replacements, and so enforcement of alcohol and drug rules tended to be lax. 

Recognizing the problem, prevention advocates saw the need for a uniform policy for high-school athletics as part of wider efforts to prevent underage drinking. Working with the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, with support from the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services, advocates from ?Stand Tall, Don?t Fall: United Against Underage Drinking? began developing a policy that could be applied statewide. 

They developed the policy with three key goals; that it be educational, corrective, and restorative. The policy begins with the educational, when all would-be athletes and their parents attend an informational session on alcohol and other drug use and its consequences.

When that session is complete, athletes are bound to the policy for the rest of their time in school. Should they violate the policy, sanctions become increasingly dire with each offense. For the first offense, a student will receive six weeks suspension from play; this can be reduced to two weeks if the student and parents take part in a further educational session on underage drinking. Students also have to complete an eight to ten hour service project. A second offense earns the student a three month suspension from play and a mandatory alcohol assessment. While suspended, students are expected to dress out and participate in practice, but are not allowed to compete. The third offense triggers full expulsion from athletics for the rest of the student?s high-school career. It may seem harsh, but says Kathy Bartosz of Stand Tall: ?If they haven?t gotten the message after the second time, they?re not going to get the message.?

The program is being piloted in Washoe County, under the guidance of Eddie Bonine, Washoe County Schools Director of Student Services. With support from across Nevada, the program is slated to go statewide in the 2003-04 school year. Says Bonine, ?I feel it?s going to be successful?I feel it is successful.? 

For more information,  contact Eddie Bonine of Washoe County Schools at 775-348-0375 or Kathy Bartosz of Stand Tall, Don?t Fall at 775-684-7294.


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