Underage Drinking And Social Media Warning

11:52 PM, Mar 9, 2012   |    comments
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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA)-- Is getting caught drinking underage just youthful indiscretion or something far more damaging?

Montgomery County teen court coordinator Georgine DeBord sets the record straight.

"It's rampant. It's happening all the time. And it has to stop. People have to take action. We have to do something so you don't get the knock at the door at 3 am, to say that your child's dead," warns DeBord.

Alcohol and drug use may be rampant among teenagers. Common sense is not. Especially when it comes to social media.

"Don't put anything on there you don't want everybody to know about, including family, grandparents, employers, colleges," says DeBord.

As an experiment, 9NEWS NOW's Andrea McCarren, logged onto Facebook and plugged in some local high schools. Within minutes, she found photos of teenagers partying with alcohol visible or in many cases, the bright plastic cups often used to disguise it.

"Do not allow anything to be taken that you don't want everybody in the world to see. No matter how many blocks you have on your own Facebook, only my friends can see this. Well, you may make a friend mad. And your friend may cut and paste something that you did and post it on his wall that he opens to the world."

Georgine DeBord is Montgomery County's teen court coordinator, where respondents between the ages of 12 and 17 face a jury of their peers. She has a warning for all those high school seniors applying to college or already accepted.

"Admissions offices will hire students to troll the Facebook, and troll internet, after kids have been accepted to see are there pictures of them standing with their college sweatshirt, holding a red cup.  That's not projecting a good image. They can withdraw your scholarship. They can withdraw your acceptance if they want to."

Employers are increasingly looking at social media too, says DeBord.

"We've been in existence 15 years so we've got kids now who are in their thirties going for NSA security clearances, and they want to know everything you've done from the cradle on up."

So is the military.

"I've had to write many letters for young men and women wanting to go in the military, saying they had this charge, they cleared it up. So your past does follow you sometimes, even as a juvenile. That's one of the myths that the kids think. Once it's 18, I'm done. Well, that's not always true."

DeBord urges parents to find out if their teens are drinking or doing drugs. It's not the end of the world, she says. But it could be if parents don't get their children help.

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