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Teens Say Drinking Starts at Home

One big question comes to mind after alcohol-related problems occurred among teens in Stamford and Greenwich: Where do the teens get alcohol in the first place? Students at Greenwich High School agreed the easiest place to get alcohol is from home.

“At parties people have it at their house, it’s just around. Usually people get it from their parents,” said Elizabeth Fawcett, a freshman. Another freshman, Haley Sylvester said, “Our parents don’t give it to us or anything, I think people just take it.” Both girls agreed that most teens know where the alcohol is kept.

Two weeks ago, several Stamford High School students were arrested on reckless endangerment charges after a video surfaced of teens partying in Boyle Stadium while a 15-year-old girl was lying unconscious from drinking an excessive amount of alcohol. She was taken to Stamford Hospital, then rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital after several attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. She was released the next day.

The week before, six teens were hospitalized in Greenwich after showing up highly intoxicated to a party at the Arch Street Teen Center . One teen was issued an infraction ticket on a charge of procuring alcohol by a minor. The center’s director, Kyle Silver, said he hopes the incident will be a wakeup call to parents.

“Best thing I can tell parents is, 'If you have alcohol in your house, you have to have an inventory of it,'” said Sgt. Mark Zuccharella of the Greenwich Police Department. “Most underage alcohol consumption occurs at the home, and I found that shocking. My parents didn’t have alcohol. If they did, it was a six-pack of beer, and my father would have known if anything was missing.”

Annually, 709,000 young people ages 12 to 14 have drunk alcohol in the past month, according to a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . Nearly 94 percent received their alcohol for free the last time they drank and nearly 45 percent got the alcohol for free from family or at home. “The best thing we can do is try to keep alcohol away from kids, but really there’s no answer,” said Zuccharella.

Sylvester said she thinks schools are doing “just about as much as they can do” to prevent teen drinking. Another freshman student, Sean Kieren, said the informational seminars at school sometimes have the opposite effect. “The school does a lot about it, but I think kids will always want to try it out for themselves,” he said.

Stamford High School will host a forum at the school’s auditorium from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Health care professionals and community representatives will discuss issues surrounding teen substance abuse and provide information and resources for parents, according to Principal Donna Valentine. The forum is for students, parents “and anybody else who wants to attend,” said Sarah Arnold, spokeswoman for Stamford Public Schools.

“We tell people, communicate with your kids,” said Zuccharella. “If you talk to your kids, they’re going to be more willing to talk to you, and parents have got to start talking to kids when they’re younger.”

Be part of the conversation: What do you think can be done to prevent teen drinking? Leave a comment below!

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