Youth counselor addresses alcohol, youth
By JAMIE PATTERSON
Emily Vaughan-Kirchmayr with the Gateway Map Coalition visited Lion’s Club recently to warn members and parents of the dangers of underage drinking.
In addition, she warned of the recent law that would now make persons legally liable for serving alcohol or drugs to minors.
A native of Yazoo City and the daughter of Sheriff Thomas Vaughan, Vaughan-Kirchmayr is a licensed youth counselor and specializes in youth alcohol and drug addictions.
The average age of first time alcohol usage in minors is approximately 11.
“Of those kids, they are ten times more likely to become dependent on alcohol and twice as likely to become alcoholics,” she said.
Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs are easily accessible to our children. In the past, no one has been held accountable. The laws have always made the serving of minor children a discretional issue of the minors parent or guardian.
“It is not illegal for me to serve my child alcohol,” she said. “And until recently, law enforcement was prevented from responding to calls on private property where underage drinking was suspected.”
After studies conducted of the dangers of alcohol usage by minors, it was time to take action.
A committee dedicated to pushing a bill to hold parents and guardians responsible for underage drinking was formed.
“We made so many calls and visited so many organizations over several months trying to get the support for this bill,” said Vaughan-Kirchmayr. “Gateway Map Coalition is Yazoo County’s version of MAAUD.”
With the help of Sen. David Blount and Rep. Richard Bennett, a Social Host bill was introduced to both the Senate and the House in 2010 after a lengthy process of being “looked over or pushed under the table.” The bill was successfully passed in both the Senate and the House but the issue arose that there were now two versions of that bill.
As of July 1, it is now illegal for persons over twenty-one to serve alcohol to minor children that they are otherwise not responsible for.
“If you allow your child to drink, it is your decision, but with this law, you are no longer allowed to make that decision for my child.”
Sheriff Thomas Vaughan said he intends to uphold the law and to prosecute to the maximum extent.