Our city, so rich
Nestled in the cradle of the mystic Blue Ridge Mountains, roughly 70 miles northeast of Atlanta, grows a flourishing town of unparalleled beauty and culture. The city is home to museums, gardens, historic sites, beautiful parks and recreation spots, a zoo, a nature center, performing arts centers, and a vast array of shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
Known as a global center for music, Athens has been designated as one of the top 25 arts destinations in the nation for many years. Athens is also home to the Georgia Bulldogs and the cult following of fans steeped in tailgating and tradition. The city boasts of many well known festivals as well, such as the Twilight Criterium, where over 150 cyclists from around the world compete in a race through the streets of downtown Athens as the sun goes down, and AthFest, a summer music festival drawing crowds from all over to celebrate music with over 200 bands.
Unfortunately, this city — so rich in beauty, history, and culture, is also one of the poorest communities in the nation. Athens-Clarke County has the third highest poverty rate in the nation among communities with populations between 65,000 and 259,999. Over 30% of children in Clarke County live in poverty and almost half (49%) live in single-parent homes, both significant risk factors for substance abuse and dropping out of school.
The majority of CCSD students (77%) met federal poverty guidelines and received free or reduced rate lunch during the 2010-2011 school year. The graduation rate is 66.1%. The juvenile crime rate is over 50% higher than the state’s, and violent crime is more than double the national rate. Research reveals that children who live in poverty tend to struggle academically, experience depression, have poor nutrition, have low self-esteem, abuse substances and have a higher than average dropout rate.
What does this mean?
It can be inferred that because the University of Georgia is located in Clarke County, middle school and high school students are often exposed to the consumption of alcohol and public drunkenness by college students, which has a negative impact on impressionable youth. Festivals, which add so much to the backdrop of the community, also greatly contribute to the social norming of alcohol acceptance. Many events are even hosted by local breweries or downtown, and include activities for children along-side alcohol vendors. Additionally, Athens has 293 alcohol retailers, with 104 of those located in downtown Athens. Alcohol is available somewhere in the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.