Underage Drinking Is A Growing Concern In Harford County

Underage drinking is illegal and dangerous. Now police say it’s growing out of control in one Maryland county.

Kelly McPherson explains police are trying to send a message to parents.

Underage drinking is becoming a bigger problem and a higher priority in Harford County.

“Our 10th and 12th graders are binge drinking at a higher rate than the state average. And binge drinking five or more drinks at the same time,” said Joseph Ryan, Harford County Department of Drug Control Policy.

Law enforcement is struggling to educate parents about the dangers of providing booze and drugs to their kids under 21 years old.

“In the late 70s, the legal drinking age was 18 years old,” Ryan said. ” And those teenagers of the late 70s are the parents of our teenagers today, but the world has changed an awful lot in the last 30 years.”

The latest incident happened the day after Thanksgiving on Pleasantville Road in Fallston, Md.  The police report says that when deputies arrived the father came out to speak to them, but the mother took 10 minutes to answer the door—protesting the entire time. Inside they found 100 kids.

Deputies say they saw Marcy Sherry “assisting kids inside with cleaning up beer cans and liquor bottles into bags and placing them in closets and under the kitchen sink.”

A week earlier a parent in Joppa was busted for having underage kids drinking and smoking pot in his home.

Penalties for the parents vary. In the Joppa case, the dad faces a $500 fine. In the Fallston, each parent faces up to 5 years in prison and $15,000 in fines.

“Deputies have discretion when they come to the scene to be able to look at the situation on hand—parents were not cooperative with that situation,” said Monica Worrell, Harford County’s Sheriff’s Department. “We had to call in several deputies and officers to handle the situation that was by no means under control.”

Harford county officials link this abuse to creating drug addicts.

“When I say most, probably 95 out of 100, go back to ‘I started drinking alcohol when I was in high school, that’s why I’m a coke addict.  That’s why I’m a heroine addict today.  I wish I never would have picked up that first beer,’ “ Ryan said.

Underage drinking is not new, but in Harford County, law enforcement says it has grown to a dangerous point. In the last two weeks, there have been two  cases of underage drinking–one where the parents were drinking with their child and 100 other teens.

The county recently received a state grant to pay for officer training on breaking up and interviewing people at these parties as well as other initiatives to cut down on underage drinking.

The Fallston parents have been released on bond and will be back in court next week.

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  • AT

    It’s only dangerous and illegal because this country is so freaking weird about it. Everywhere else in the world the drinking age is either 16 or 18. Why should someone be able to get married, but not drink a beer or a glass of champagne to toast with, why should the be able to go fight wars and die for their country, but not drink? It’s so stupid. This law was founded by quakers who hated booze, it’s an old tradition that needs to be done away with. 21 doesn’t work, and it never will. People need to get that through their thick skulls. If you don’t agree with me, well I feel sorry for you, you’re just another tightwad American with a pointy stick up your butt.

  • Gary

    This all goes back to the fault of the government for trying to control every aspect of everyone’s lives and lack of education on the fault of everyone. I began sipping beer every night when I was 2. Yup – two. As I got older I was allowed to have a little more at times or special occasions. It was always there when I wanted it. When my friends were sneaking around living their week in school just so they could get drunk on a weekend, I wasn’t. It was never a challenge for me so I never did. Instead of telling kids they just can’t do it, educate them on doing so responsibly. If they want to experiment with it, instead of telling them “NO” educate them by letting them have a responsible controlled party with lots of parents that feel the same and are there to help control everything. Take video so they can see how they act when they are drunk and stupid. And be there so they don’t over-indulge and harm themselves. Do it the right way instead of just “it’s the law”. This country is based on people doing things for reasons they believe and feel strongly about. Remove the challenge and the thrill and the circumstances will correct themselves. I am not saying every child should be allowed to get drunk whenever they want but fix the problem through education and not punishment and ramification. This entire county is so transfixed on controlling every aspect of everyone in the world through the shear fear that if you break the law you will be punished horribly that it has lost sight of reality. I am not saying these parents were right having a party with a hundred kids and just the two of them, but if every kids parents were there and they were doing so responsibly I would have the back of the parents.

  • Jen Riley


    • bobby

      you seriously called the police on parties your daughter was attending? Do you honestly believe your daughter has, or will EVER have, ANY respect for you as a parent if you’re busting the parties she goes to? how do you think that affects her social life at school? THAT is the type of behaivor that leads to depression, teen anxiety, eventual drug use, and out of control teenagers!!!

      how about instead of making other peoples’ lives difficult and poking your nose in things, go take a class in better parenting and learn how to control your “teen” from going to all these parties. but i got news for you, wise up and realize your daughter, like 90% of teenagers, is probably going to a lot more parties than you think. Parents like you are the reason this country’s policies are the laughing stock of the world!

  • Allie

    As a 20 year old girl living in Harford County, I’ve been drinking with my friends since I was 15. Most of us never got crazy with it, but what a lot of people did get crazy with was drugs. Oxycontin & other pills is how it begins & when they can’t afford it anymore most turned to heroin. I have many friends from highschool who are now heroin addicts & in the last 2 yrs 3 of my peers have ODed on heroin. All 3 from Harco. I have yet to see a crackdown on any of the people who are known heroin & pill addicts. 3 kids 2 yrs? Something is not right. Maybe the cops should pull their head out of the sand & look at the ridiculous drug use around here. Also, I agree with Gary&Bobby. Good to know there are some normal people out there still.

  • Jen

    I would rather my teens drink at home atleast they are not driving drunk I agree with bobby. Most teens expermint with drugs and alcohol or some type of pills. Allie is also right why dont you worry about the herion addicts and crack addicts

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