Columbia County Community Connections is holding two programs Tuesday to help educate and protect teens.
The programs will begin at 6 p.m. at Harlem High School and will address the legal issues facing teens and underage drinking.
Columbia County Chief Magistrate J. Wade Padgett will present his Teenage Years 101 seminar for parents and teens.
Padgett has given the free seminar, usually to teens and their parents separately, about 50 times.
He discusses legal issues and choices that teens face, including some that can send them to prison. He plans to discuss drug and alcohol abuse, driver's licenses, sex, technology and the consequences for criminal activity.
After Padgett's seminar, Community Connections will hold a town hall meeting about underage drinking.
"We'll raise the issue of the toll that underage drinking takes on a community, then talk about some things the average citizens can do," said Julie Miller, Community Connections executive director.
The town hall meeting is part of a nationwide effort to meet the goals from The Surgeon General's Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking and is supported by the Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Prevention of Underage Drinking.
The meetings are designed to increase community understanding of underage drinking and its consequences and to provide an opportunity for communities to discuss how they can best address the problem.
Parents, teens and community members are invited.
Miller said most people, including teens, have a casual attitude toward underage drinking, looking at it as a right of passage or simply something teens do.
Teens who drink are much more likely to become alcoholics, Miller said.
"I think it will be eye-opening for both sides," she said.
Those attending the meeting will first be asked to fill out a survey about alcohol use and alcohol-related issues in their communities.
"People can have an impact in the community if they stand up and speak out. We're here to facilitate that," Miller said.
"Once we know the facts, once we know the risks, we are much better able to make a better decision," she said.
Both seminars are free and open to the public.
For more information, call Community Connections at (706) 556-0609.
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