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College started for many schools across the country last week. After years of working hard to get into a good school, students leave rules and parental guidance behind, as they venture off to begin their new independent lives. The excitement of being away from home for the first time combined with peer pressure often leads students to make poor decisions. Unfortunately, an incident occurred this past weekend at Fresno State in which an 18- year old Fraternity pledge died after a night of drinking. This death comes seven years after the death of another Fresno State student who was found to have more than four times the legal driving limit for intoxication in his blood.

Universities have tried to crack down on partying at fraternities and sororities over the past decade due to an increase in the number of high profile incidents of hazing. In fact, last year four Cornell students accused of tying up a pledge and forcing him to drink until he passed out. He was left on a couch where he later died. And, at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, new pledges were forced to drink alcohol until they vomited and then forced to drink more.

Fraternity and Sorority members have recently been very defensive about this reported behavior, saying that they get a bad rap and these are just high profile individual incidents. However, a 2001 Harvard School of Public Health Alcohol Study studied college drinking nationally and discovered that fraternity members were more likely to engage in heavy drinking than their non-fraternity friends. 75% of fraternity members verses 48.6%.

This behavior has damaging affects on the individual who is partaking in the binge drinking. Not only is it bad for the student’s physical health, but also it hurts academic success and the safety of those around them, as they are more likely to be violent, aggressive and unstable. Heavily intoxicated individuals tend to cause property damage, stress on friend’s who have to take care of them, sexual assault, and the dangers of drinking under the influence. Some schools have taken clear initiative by completely prohibiting rush week. They have also restricted promotion of parties through posted notices and have instituted a higher level of surveillance at off campus parties.

Unfortunately, as we see in this latest incident, the problem is not going away. Students need to be educated about the risks of drinking and especially the binge drinking, prior to leaving for college. Having an open line of communication with your teenage children is imperative to helping prevent alcohol and drug abuse. Online alcohol and drug awareness classes are an excellent tool for parents to use before their child is leaving to live away from home. They can be accessed from any Internet based computer in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Quality courses will teach the risks and repercussions to your health and those around you of drug and alcohol abuse. They will educate the student on what the current drugs are out there, and skills to use to avoid peer pressure and to just say no are also taught in minor in possession classes.

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