St. Johns Co. sheriff leads battle on teen drinking

Town hall meeting to fight back against underage drinking, drug use

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A group is coming together in St. Johns County on Thursday night to crack down on underage drinking and drug use.

Sheriff David Shoar is taking his message to students and parents, hosting a town hall meeting called "Be A Parent, Not A Friend." It will be held in the auditorium at Bartram Trail High School from 7-9 p.m.

The Sheriff's Office said it sees far too many teens binge drinking, and often the alcohol is supplied to them by an adult or even a parent.

So this seminar is designed to remind teens and adults alike how something that may seem innocent to some can end in tragedy.

It has been nearly four years since two St. Johns county teens died after crashing their car driving from a party where 52-year-old Diane Santarelli served them alcohol.

Teenage drinking is something St. Johns County deputies say they still see.

"It is the Sheriff's Office, in fact, that is dealing with the intoxicated 15-,16-year-old's," said Sgt. Chuck Mulligan. "We're doing traffic stops on them and realizing that they have been drinking. We try to run that back and find out who is supplying the alcohol."

That's part of the reason why Shoar is coming together with the PACT Prevention Coalition of St. Johns County to sponsor "Be a Parent, Not a Friend," a town hall meeting to address underage drinking and drug use among young people and adults providing the substances to them.

Some parents said it's important to be close with children, but they have to draw the line.

"I am their friend, but first of all I'm their parent," William Ebron said. "So I'm trying to instill in them the values that I was brought up with so that they can pass it on to their kids."

"I don't believe in being friends to my children per se," mother Christine Phipps said. "I think that they have plenty of friends and they have one mom, and that's my job."

The Sheriff's Office hopes the town hall meeting will get the message across to adults, but especially teens.

"We also try to lay in the fact that these things do occur to young people, and they are not invincible, and that certainly we don't want to respond to crashes," Mulligan said. "We don't want to respond to parties where people are having issues."

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