Commentary: Beware of youth drinking chances at the holidays

Megan Albanese, STEPS Coalition outreach manager

Gifts, homemade cookies and celebrations are all part of the holiday season. Getting together with friends and loved ones can be a wonderful time, but what we don’t always consider is that these celebrations increase youth’s access to unmonitored alcohol by almost 100%.

How? Think about the upcoming holiday parties you have in the next few weeks. Will there be alcohol? Will there be youth present? How will you ensure youth won’t have access to the alcohol in your home or at these parties?

According to our most recent student survey, 59% of Southington youth report that it would be “easy to obtain alcohol” with the No. 1 source being their homes—with or without parent’s permission. In addition, Southington students report:

  • 35% of 11th graders report drinking in the past 30 days.
  • 58% of 11th graders report going to a party where people were drinking.
  • 16% of 11th graders report getting drunk in the two weeks prior to the survey.
  • 66% of 11th graders think it is wrong to drink regularly.

One way to help keep alcohol out of the wrong hands is to use a STEPS Liquor Sticker. The STEPS Liquor Sticker is a youth council-led initiative that encourages parents to take the necessary actions to prevent youth access to alcohol. To use the product, choose the length that best fits your bottle of alcohol and place the ends of the sticker on either side with the middle covering the cap.

STEPS (Southington’s Town-wide Effort to Promote Success)
200 North Main St., Southington, CT 06489
Tel: (860) 276-6285

If the bottle is opened, the sticker will be torn and tampering will be evident. There is also a designated place on the sticker to write the date it was applied. The STEPS Liquor Sticker is available and free of charge at the Southington youth services department. Please contact albanesem@southington.org or stop by to get yours today.

We also encourage adults to talk to the youth in their lives about the dangers of alcohol and the impact it can have on their future and developing brain. If you need resources or materials on how to talk with youth, please visit our website www.southingtonsteps.org. While visiting our website, be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter to get our latest information and like us on Facebook.

Lastly, please keep in mind that it is illegal to allow underage youth to drink alcohol on your property according to the Connecticut social host law that was established in 2006. Fines and penalties, such as an increase in your homeowners insurance and even arrests, can occur.

Please help keep our community safe this holiday season by safely securing your alcohol.

Megan Albanese is the Southington STEPS Coalition outreach coordinator. She can be reached at (860) 276-6281 or albanesem@southington.org.

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