Byline: Eric Peterson
Amid all of the new youth-related issues of recent years like steroid use and cyber stalking, officials believe they may have taken their eyes off the ball of underage drinking.
But a series of federally initiated town hall meetings in different communities are starting to address the resurgence of an age-old problem.
At the Schaumburg convention center Thursday, such a meeting moderated by state Rep. Paul Froehlich was held by representatives of Motorola, the Schaumburg Police Department, Elk Grove High School, Prevention First and Kenneth Young Center.
"We've seen a startling increase in underage drinking in the last few years, according to a state survey done every two years," Froehlich said.
One of these statistics is a 53.4 percent increase between 2002 and the most recent survey in 2006 of eighth graders who said they'd had alcohol in the last month.
Froehlich suggested that it was satisfaction with previous success in reducing underage drinking that caused the issue to drop in priority. He saw the same thing happen after an earlier campaign to raise awareness among pregnant women of the danger of fetal alcohol syndrome.
"This is human nature," Froehlich said. "You give a lot of attention to one issue and it declines - for a while."
Karel Ares, executive director of Springfield-based Prevention First, said the time had come to remind communities to create an environment in which underage drinking can't thrive. …