By LINDSAY CAREY
The Southington Town-wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS) Coalition is making an effort to encourage students to remain sober on prom night and is holding parents accountable for the after parties.
The “Promise” STEPS campaign is built on trust and students who participate will be rewarded with treats and giveaways. For the second year, STEPS is reaching out to students and asking them to make a “promise” to abstain from drugs and alcohol on prom night.
STEPS Youth Prevention Coordinator Kelly Leppard said that STEPS has gotten an even better response to the campaign this year.
“It’s an incentive to get the kids to stay sober,” she said.
STEPS received support from community businesses through donations, which will serve as rewards for the students who make the promise. Some of these businesses include Modern Formals, Eclipse Hair Salon, From Tips to Toes, Blonde and Beyond, Silk Nails, Stop and Shop, and Purple Petal.
During school hours, members of STEPS went to the high school and set up a table to hand out the pledges, stickers, and lip balm all with the logo “Promise.”
“We wanted to make it a positive thing and not just tell them ‘don’t drink,’ but by simply making a promise to make it a night to remember by celebrating without alcohol,” said Leppard.
Parents are also an important aspect of keeping teens safe of prom night, so STEPS reached out to them with information about Connecticut’s social host laws.
The social host law states that “it is illegal for anyone who owns or controls private property, including a dwelling unit, from recklessly or with criminal negligence, to permit anyone under age 21 to illegally possess alcohol in the unit or on the property.”
The law also extends to hold owners liable for allowing possession in the hands of someone “who acts recklessly or with criminal negligence.”
Violating this law can result in a misdemeanor, which can lead to a year in prison or a $2,000 fine for every minor present at the time.
A letter was sent out to parents of juniors at Southington High School asking them to promise not to “allow any underage drinking or drug use” on their property and to “not provide minors with any alcohol on the night of their high school prom.”
In the letter, STEPS asked parents to either display a lawn sign, which stands against hosting parties with underage drinking, on their front lawn or to permit STEPS to print their name in an advertisement in local newspapers during prom week.
As an incentive to participate, all parents were entered in a raffle to win a $100 gift card to Stop and Shop, which was sponsored by Wheeler Clinic.
Leppard said STEPS has received a great response from parents so far, and a lot of the pledges have been returned.
STEPS is also in partnership with the Southington Police Department for both the junior and senior proms. SPD will be on patrol and prepared to shut down any underage drinking parties on either prom night.
STEPS will be setting up a table to hand out pledges for senior prom in May and parents of high school seniors will receive their pledge cards in the mail this April.