This entry is part five in a series of five by our youth correspondent Brett Ouimette.
Alcohol is accessible to teens in various ways. We no longer live in a world where everyone knows – and trusts — the store clerk on the corner. Our parents do not regularly interact with community members. Often, they have no idea at all how available alcohol really is to us.
The easiest and most popular way for a youth to get alcohol is to steal it. If you’re just stealing alcohol for yourself you can walk right in, grab a bottle, put it under your coat, and walk out. It’s honestly the easiest thing in the store to steal. If you attempt to steal a five-dollar pair of socks they at least have a sensor on them. If you have to steal alcohol for a party, it’s a little more difficult, but not by much. You have one person wait outside in a car for the getaway and one or two people run in fill up a cart with the finest vodka and beer and run out. It is that easy and cheap!
Why spend ten dollars on a movie or fifteen dollars in gas to drive somewhere fun when you can sit at home and get drunk for free? If we actually feel like being honest and are willing to pay for our alcohol we have older siblings, or one of our friend’s “cool” parents to buy it for us. And if for some miraculous reason all of those plans don’t work out, just about every teen in the city knows of at least one liquor store that will sell to kids.
These are things that community members can work together to change. We can encourage our stores to have policies that don’t make it so easy for kids to steal alcohol. Maybe there are ways to make safer merchant policies required by law. We can also apply pressure to parents and other adults that are willing to provide alcohol to youth. So many people know adults that do it, but aren’t speaking up and holding them accountable. I believe some serious adult peer pressure could help over time.
Brett Ouimette is an 18-year-old college student originally from Simi Valley.