Op-Ed: Coming Together to Prevent Teen Drinking

A San Marin High sophomore asks for support for the Novato Youth Council to combat underage consumption of alcohol.


On Tuesday you reported on the teen DUI crash at Sutro and Vineyard in Novato involving six minors. This crash is a symptom of the ongoing problem with underage drinking that the community faces. Some may say the youth have gotten off easy, as no one was killed, but the one girl with a broken jaw won’t be able to eat pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, the one boy with a head wound won’t enjoy the Thanksgiving break the way he was expecting.

As a youth advocating for solutions to address underage drinking in Novato, I would like to sincerely thank you for the coverage of the event and consequently, the attention brought to this issue.

On Dec. 13 from 6-8 p.m. at Novato City Hall, the Novato Youth Council — a group working to reduce underage drinking — will host the opening of its Photovoice exhibit titled “Through the Lens of Youth: Transforming the Culture of Underage Drinking in Novato.”  The exhibit will show how young people used photography and dialogue to examine this issue and the community’s resources to address it.

There will be time to view the gallery of photographs and stories from 6-6:45 p.m. and a youth-led presentation and panel on key findings and recommendations for action starting at 6:45. Councilman Eric Lucan will speak and Spanish interpretation will be available.

We can’t shrug off the serious issue of underage drinking.  As a community we have suffered from far too many alcohol-involved crashes and other consequences that are entirely preventable. The preventative solution to this problem is to come together as a whole community and start doing things differently. We need to keep alcohol out of the hands of youth and address the root causes of underage drinking.  We hope you will join this Photovoice exhibit to learn more about how you can be part of the solution.


Olivia Murillo, sophomore at San Marin High School

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Sylvia Barry November 21, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Olivia, thank you for writing this passionate article from a Teen's perspective and being part of the Novato Youth Council to help address this urgent issue! Sometimes it is so much easier to place blames instead of providing solutions! I thank you and your friends for taking the lead to help the community work together and help teens in their most vulnerable time of temptations and growing up!
David Edmondson November 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Though it's a bit of a band-aid on the problem, get your kids a Clipper Card and teach them how to use the bus system. Teach them about keeping emergency cab money and make sure they keep $20 in their wallet at all times. Put taxi numbers in their phones, teach them how to call one. Teens shouldn't drink, but they often do. Show them how to get around town without getting behind the wheel and they will.
Mark Burnham November 21, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Congratulations to Ms. Murillo for her efforts. Included in the underage drinking discussion should be something about "why there seem to be far more teen alcohol related accidents in west Novato?". Despite what we hear from some, I don't believe the teens in Novato drink any more than any other city in the bay area. I do believe that there are more car accidents here that can be attributed to drinking and reckless driving. The semi rural nature this side of town has and the proximity to the long stretches of open road headed out to Stafford are big contributers to the problem we have here. If I recall correctly many of these accidents are on San Marin Dr, Novato Blvd, Indian Valley Road, Vineyard Rd...teens drinking and driving seem to feel more emboldened on roads like these. The discussion should not just be about teens and alcohol it should also address the location we live in that seems to contribute greatly to irresponsible driving habits.


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