CRESTVIEW — Linda Mitchem, the midtown neighborhood-watch group’s captain, says residents should take preventive measures to ensure everyone stays safe.
The watch group spans several central Crestview neighborhoods, including East Edney, Shortwell and Williams avenues, but few people from those areas participate.
"There are 300 households within our area and right now we have 10 active members," Mitchemsaid. "Usually people don't want to get involved until something happens on their street."
The group on Tuesday invited Mothers Against Drunk Driving representatives to prevent tragedy during its meeting at Central Baptist Church.
Marylin Dorsey, a MADD project specialist, discussed the importance of parents talking to their underage children about alcohol consumption — well before they become teenagers.
One in five teens binge drink, and almost one in eight eighth-graders have tried alcohol, according to the Institute of Medicine National Research Council of the National Academies and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, respectively.
Teaching kids the dangers earlier than ever is important because children locally are drinking at younger ages, according to authorities.
"The youngest person that I have ever encountered that was drunk was 11 years old," Crestview community police officer Wanda Hulion said. "That was here in Crestview."
The presentation was informational and inspiring, Mitchem said.
"It opened up some good ideas for me to talk to my son about," she said.
The guest speaker changed at least one attendee’s perception of MADD.
"I always had this picture in my mind that MADD meant exactly what it said ... it was just a bunch of mad women and parents looking to hang people out to dry," resident Nina Blake said. “(But Tuesday’s event) was about educating children and families ... they are not trying to beat you over the head with it."
Want to go?
The next midtown neighborhood-watch meeting is at 6 p.m. July 23 in Central Baptist Church’s senior center. Email Linda Mitchem, email@example.com, for more details.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.