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Project targets Arizona adults who buy liquor for kids

Some East Valley students are taking part in an unusual project called “shoulder tapping.”

The teens, working with the Mesa Prevention Alliance, approach adults at convenience, liquor, and grocery stores and tap them on the shoulder and ask them to buy alcohol.

“When we first started, about 30 percent of adults were saying yes,” said Karen Frias-Long with the alliance. “We’ve seen the numbers dropping.”

Since the program began about one year ago, Frias-Long said about 200 taps have been performed.

“We’ve had elderly grandmas saying yes to our youth,” said Frias-Long. “We’ve had disabled people saying yes to our youth, so it runs the gamut.”

Frias-Long said not many adults get angry, but many are embarrassed when, after saying yes, the teen signals a police officer who appears and explains the law. No tickets are issued because Frias-Long said the focus is on education and increasing awareness.

“It’s not just purchasing the alcohol, but what happens after,” she said. “Are they driving? Are they involved in risky behavior or the potential of being a victim of crime.”

The Mesa Prevention Alliance started the project after a survey revealed many children were getting alcohol from adults.