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Study: Quarter of Hemet 5th graders try booze

June 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An eye-opening new study finds more than a quarter of all the students in one local district have tried alcohol by the time they're in 5th grade. The numbers are alarming, and this district isn't alone.The numbers themselves might be stunning to some parents. While you may not be surprised that high school kids have tried booze, or maybe even middle school kids, a new survey shows more than 25 percent of all fifth-graders in Hemet have tried alcohol.

It's shocking to parents like Lisa Inman, who has a child who will be in the fifth grade next year.

"Wow, I'm sorry, I can't even imagine kids drinking alcohol at that age," said Inman, a Hemet resident.

But it is happening, according to the latest California Healthy Kids Survey. Many parents blame other parents for the problem.

"I think it's more the parents, I think it's like they say, whatever they see at home, it's what they do," said Hemet resident Mayra Munoz.

"Somebody needs to care, you know, but it really should be the parents' job," said Cece Perry, a resident of Hemet. "If you brought them into this world, come on, do your job."

"It's just become apparent that, unfortunately, sometimes parents say it's OK for a kid to try something, take a sip," said Mary Wulfsberg, assistant superintendent, Hemet Unified School District. "That gets reported on the survey."

But Wulfsberg says the report actually shows the number of kids who've tried alcohol has gone down over the past 10 years, partly because of programs the district has put in place.

"One thing is a community coalition called 'Not in Our Town,' where parents could actually be cited if it's reported that minors have alcohol in the home, if they're supporting social drinking of any kind," said Wulfsberg.

This report was to be officially presented to the school board at its meeting Tuesday night, at which point they can decide whether any further action is required.

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