WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 01, 2010, 09:19 AM

Counselor: More and more teens getting into trouble with alcohol

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Another issue getting attention is underage drinking. This comes on the heels of a 13-year old West Fargo girl who was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. High school counselors and police say they're are seeing more and more teenagers and pre-teens getting into trouble. More on why the problem is making its way to a younger generation.

She's a familiar, beaming face here at Fargo North and for the past six years, Mary Krueger has been the go-to gal for kids who get in trouble for underage drinking.

MARY: "We've always had pretty significant numbers in regards to referrals, but as the years go on, they keep getting bigger and bigger."

North Dakota state law requires young adults who get caught to meet with counselors like Krueger. And she says the age just keeps dropping.

MARY: "They perceive it as 'only' being alcohol and everything is a lot more dangerous so if they're only drinking they consider that a lot safer."

LT. JACOBSON: "The teachers are expressing this in their classrooms at very young ages."

Moorhead Police Lieutenant Tory Jacobson says they've caught kids as young as 12 drinking. Something he attributes to the every changing, connected society.

LT. JACOBSON: "They have ways of passing information more than we ever had. Whether it's with cell phones or computers, emails, internet, all of that and with that they're seeing things we weren't exposed to before."

OFFICER DAHL: "Legal consequences and there's health consequences to it and there's also parental consequences too."

Alcohol and drug prevention programs like DARE target 5th and 6th graders, but officials say awareness and tackling the growing issue can never be started early enough. Krueger says they're also seeing more kids binge drinking. Something she says is a lot easier to do because of the increase in fruity-tasting alcoholic drinks.