San Diego Teens Go Undercover To Teach Lesson

Operation Meant To Teach Adults Lesson About Underage Drinking

Teenagers in San Diego went undercover to see what adults would do when asked to help them commit a crime and to teach adults a lesson about underage drinking.


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It is called "shoulder tapping" when people under the legal drinking age ask adults to buy alcohol for them.

As part of the operation, one teen standing outside a San Diego market asked an adult if they could go inside the store and buy them some beer. Though the teens were part of an undercover operation, they do not work for law enforcement and they do not get anyone arrested.

The teens are with the Latino Youth Council and their purpose is to educate.

"We do different projects in order to change the perception that drugs and alcohol are good," said 18-year-old Adriana Rodriguez, the chairperson of the Latino Youth Council.

The youth group is part of SAY San Diego. ( For more information on SAY San Diego, click here. )

The shoulder tap survey is one of the projects they do to combat underage drinking. The idea came from Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Youth in Action program.

( For more information on MADD's Youth In Action program, click here. )

When adults agreed to buy them alcohol, the teens handed them a red card that said what they were about to do was illegal and that penalties can include fines and jail time.

"You already know that it's wrong," said Rodriguez. "Read it so you'll never do this again."

She admitted that she felt a little nervous at times.

"Sometimes you are a little scared that they might react angry, but most of them are just ashamed because they know that what they did was wrong," said Rodriguez.

When adults refused to buy the teens alcohol, they received a green-colored card and a "thank you" for doing the right thing.

Adults working with the youth group monitored the shoulder tap operation without being seen.

Claudia Baltazar, a prevention specialist with SAY San Diego, was one of them.

"It's not just about us doing this kind of project, but all of us – every single person that is part of our community – to get involved and be part of the solution," said Baltazar.

During the shoulder tap operation, the teens approached eleven adults. Two men and two women were given red cards when they said they would buy the teens beer.

"We have to make this change," said Rodriguez. "We have to… be able to find solutions to this problem and actually stop it."