In the aftermath of two recent cases involving underage drinking in Brentwood, students, parents and faculty are taking a proactive approach to cut down on the growing problem.
Over the weekend, the Brentwood Police Department charged eight juveniles and two young adults with consuming alcohol underage after responding to a house party late Saturday night.
Officers discovered the party at the vacant home located at 217 Williamsburg Circle just before 11 p.m.
Charges of public intoxication and consumption of alcohol underage were later filed against two 18-year-olds and eight minors, ages 16 and 17.
Additionally, two of the juveniles were charged with attempting to evade police on foot.
Assistant Police Chief Tommy Walsh told Nashville's News 2 one of the young men was taken to the ground by a responding officer but not tackled.
He explained, “The officer could have been injured. The suspect could have been injured. It is never a good idea to run from the police and it is an additional charge.”
Saturday was the second instance of underage drinking in as many weekends in Brentwood and police are warning parents to not allow such behavior.
A week earlier, on the other side of town, Walsh said officers responded to reports of a “loud party” on Hampton Reserve Drive.
He said as officers approached, several kids took off running.
Police say beer cans were in the yard and kids as young as 14 were drinking alcohol.
Two parents were home at the time.
Gail and Robert Lehman both face charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor for the incident occurring at their home earlier this month.
Robert Lehman faces seven counts and his wife one count.
In an effort to raise awareness to the growing problem, nearby Ravenwood High School has placed signs in front of the school that read, “Parents who host, lose the most.”
The motto is part of the STARS, or Students Taking a Right Stand, program, which encourages parents to take a stand against underage drinking.
Members of the STARS program say the idea behind the effort is to educate parents about the dangers of hosting inappropriate parties for teens.
Sandy Ivey's two teens attend Ravenwood and she heads up the group Parents Taking a Stand Group, a spin off of STARS.
“I know how accessible [alcohol is] and I know how easy it is in a situation where alcohol will be offered to them,” she said, adding, “Before my kids go to anybody's house, I want to know where they're going, who's going to be there [and] what parents are going to be there.”
Ravenwood STARS counselor Kat Crouse believes underage drinking has become socially acceptable among the student body.
High school senior and STARS President Deya Maldas added, “There's definitely the group that's always going to parties, but then there's also a group that we know how to have fun without going to parties.”
Maldas said underage drinking is something about half of her peers participate in. She says she believes parents are partly to blame.
“Until parents start teaching their kids that, then I feel like the problem won't be fixed,” she said.
Officials for the parent and teacher-led organizations said as prom and graduation approach, they will continue distributing signs and reminding parents about the dangers of providing teens with alcohol.
“So while some of the parents who are offering alcohol are saying, ‘Well, I'm not allowing them to drive when they leave my house,' there's so many issues that could go on right at your house that you are liable for,” Ivey said.
The group is selling yard signs that read “Parents who host, lose the most. Don't be a party to teenage drinking, it's against the law” to educate parents about the dangers of hosting inappropriate parties for teenagers.
Contact Amanda Muniz at AmandaM@wcs.edu by March 29 if you would like a sign.
Nashville's News 2 attempted to reach the Lehmans regarding the recent party at their home, but the attempts proved difficult. Their home is located in a gated community and a phone number for the property was not listed.
Police said the owner of the empty home on Williamsburg Circle will not be charged because it's unlikely he/she knew a party was taking place.
Read more about the STARS program online at WCS.edu.