For most parents, raising teenagers is a fun, challenging and sometimes downright scary proposition.

But now, in Dayton’s southern neighborhoods, parents can add a new resource to their parenting tool kit in the form of the South Suburban Coalition, a group “… united for alcohol and drug-free youth.” Communities and schools represented include Oakwood, Kettering, Centerville, Washington Twp., Miamisburg, Miami Twp., Moraine, West Carrollton and Archbishop Alter High School.

Last spring, the newly formed coalition hosted a kick-off meeting at Benham’s Grove in Centerville. From that meeting, volunteers began defining and implementing strategies to educate, enforce and involve parents.

Why? Because in Ohio, underage drinkers consume 26 percent of all alcohol in the state making Ohio the second highest in the U.S. in terms of underage consumption. Statistically, Ohio ranks fourth in the nation for motor vehicle fatalities involving youth ages 15-20. This is a reality check for parents.

Additionally, statistics show drug use among youth in these communities continues to be a serious threat. According to 2006 data, the Satellite Juvenile Courts saw an increase in the number of referrals for alcohol, marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia for youth residing in Centerville, Washington Twp. and Kettering. Also reported were cases for possession of vicodin, ambient and abuse of harmful intoxicants. The vast majority of these juveniles said they had used drugs many times before being caught.