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College fraternities provide poor supervision, protection

It's easy for young people to get swept along with the party when they go off to college. Peer pressure is high, and accountability is low. Perhaps for your child, college is the first experience away from home out from under your protection and the guidance of other authority figures. If your son belongs to a fraternity, that culture may also include an atmosphere of secrecy and rebellion that has carried it through generations.

In the wake of the recent death of a Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother at Penn State, you may be concerned about the dangers of alcohol abuse and fraternity hazing. Certainly, others in Pennsylvania and across the country are watching to see how the case changes the campus culture.

The shocking consequences of alcohol abuse on campus

Police in the borough say of the 8,000 crimes committed last year, 72 percent involved alcohol, and 61 percent of those involving alcohol concerned Penn State students who had been drinking. This does not include the crimes that students committed on campus. In the past two years, police arrested 751 students for underage drinking and 55 students for supplying minors with alcohol.

Not only does the use of alcohol on college campuses seem to increase the probability that a student will face criminal consequences, alcohol use in college — and particularly in fraternities — often results in continued problems with alcohol throughout life. One study showed that members of fraternities and sororities admit to being problem drinkers four times more often than those who did not join Greek communities. Binge drinking on campus is directly related to several serious issues, including:

  • Academic problems
  • Social difficulties
  • Financial hardships
  • Sexual assaults
  • Overdoses

If your son is heading off to college and returning to his fraternity, you may have serious concerns about his safety and health. You may also fear that the fraternity pressure may heavily influence his actions, and this could lead to participation in events that may jeopardize his future.

A future in the balance

Arrests for underage drinking, DUI or other alcohol-related crimes have resulted in students losing scholarships, on-campus housing and internship opportunities. In situations such as the one at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity party, several young men are facing criminal charges that could mean prison sentences if convicted.

You certainly want the best for your son. While you may not be able to supervise your child's actions while he is away at college, you likely want to provide assistance by seeking the advice of a professional in the event that your child faces legal issues resulting from alcohol use on campus.

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