Underage drinking a problem in Horry County

More adolescents drink alcohol than smoke cigarettes or use marijuana-combined, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And within the past month, four out of ten high school seniors report drinking some alcohol and more than one in three have engaged in "binge drinking."

Horry CAST, Community Action for a Safe Tomorrow, was formed on a grant from the state, because the number of underage children who drink in Horry County is extremely high.

"Horry County based high on need in both areas for underage drinking and DUI crashes," said CAST Coordinator Jessie Marlowe.

According to a study CAST did within Horry County, the majority of youth think it's acceptable to drink alcohol.

Carolina Forest teenager Breaunna Beebe says alcohol at high school parties is the norm. "It happens with every high school party."

Taylor Chandler, 17, thinks it is a growing problem in Horry County. "I think too many kids do it 'cause they think it's cool or something. They don't really have a real reason to do it."

CAST is having officers take extra time to crack down on underage parties.

"We're paying them overtime to work extra on top of what they already do, basically doing saturation patrols to look for areas where there may be partiers," said Marlowe.

Michelle Cappis is a mother of a 16-year-old and thinks more needs to be done to educate the youth on the dangers of alcohol.

"They should have at least a little bit of some types of classes," said Cappis. "To show what would happen if you drink."

Chandler agrees. "If they knew what could happen to them, they would hopefully stay away from it."

CAST is beginning educational classes this year in Horry County schools.