Franklin County Kids Rate High in Underage Drinking. - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Franklin County Kids Rate High in Underage Drinking.

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PASCO, Wash. - Benton-Franklin Substance Abuse Coalition experts say Franklin County kids have the highest percentage rates for underage drinking in Washington. Some kids reported drinking as young as 5th grade, and binge drinking before graduating from junior high, according to a recent survey.

"We have kids as young as 8th grade who are binge drinking.  Franklin County is much higher than the state and much higher than even Benton County.  Again, higher in 10th grade and higher in 12th.  These kids are binge drinking to the point of getting drunk and that a frightening number," said Peggy Haecker, Executive Director of the Benton-Franklin Substance Abuse Coalition.

Haecker also says parents have a big influence on children, saying the main source of alcohol to kids is from mom or dad. 

"Part of it is our role models are out there drinking and partying and need alcohol to have fun, they think.  And that's what our kids are growing up with," said Haecker.

Peer pressure, alcohol advertisements and a lack of education also contribute to the problem Haecker says.  In the U.S. alcohol kills more kids than any other drug.  Every day 7,000 kids under the age of 10 take their first drink.

If you want to help make kids alcohol free, nearly 200 people are expected to confront the problem at a meeting tonight.   All parents, youth, educators, law enforcement, health experts and others will be at the Martin Luther King Center on South Wehe Street in Pasco.  The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and goes to 8 p.m.  Everyone will give their input on how to solve the problem.

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