To the Editor:
(Madison County, NY – April 2013) BRiDGES, the Madison County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., in partnership with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement, school and government officials, would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the coming of spring and summer in our community and to recognize April as Alcohol Awareness Month.
This is the time of year that we celebrate proms, graduations and other celebratory events. Although it is a particularly exciting time for students, with teens being out of school during the summer months, it can leave them extremely vulnerable to at-risk behavior.
The community partners would like to congratulate the families of graduating seniors. Without the support, your son or daughter would have not reached this significant point in their life. It is truly a milestone. Spring graduations are a time of pride and anticipation for bright futures; however, to your local law enforcement agencies, this time can be filled with apprehension.
The culmination of high school is a time of celebrations, some of which involve teen alcohol and other drug use. Often times, teens travel to or from a graduation or prom party where alcohol and drugs are available and used.
The tragic and often permanent consequences of negative youth behavior are alarming but also preventable.
“It’s Your Community; It’s Your Call” Hotline, encourages individuals to call 866.UND.ER21 to report underage drinking, potentially helping to stop young people from driving under the influence of alcohol. The hotline goes directly to the state police who forward the call to the appropriate jurisdiction.
The anonymity of the caller is protected. This is a means and opportunity to prevent alcohol-related incidents in your community.
As parents, you possess the opinion most valued by your child. Research shows that 80 percent of teens report that parents are the number-one influence in their decision to use alcohol. As a parent, we’re certain you’d rather work with your children on these issues as opposed to them becoming involved with law enforcement.
We ask that you talk with your teens about these very real and serious issues; working together, the parents and school community can combat this problem and create a happier and much safer time for our children.
Lastly, emphasize the real consequences that underage drinking can have. It must be mentioned that there are serious criminal and civil sanctions and penalties that may be brought against any individual who provides alcohol to youth under the age of 21. In New York state, these penalties may be in the form of fines up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail.
Please take this seriously, as law enforcement will.
Again, congratulations to seniors and their families, and thank you for your concern in this important matter.
Sheriff Allen Riley, District Attorney William Gabor, BRiDGES Executive Director Susan Jenkins, Oneida Police Chief David Meeker, Canastota Police Chief James Zophy, Trooper Rodney Campbell, Hamilton Police Chief Rick Gifford, Cazenovia Police Chief Michael Hayes, Chittenango Police Department Officer in Charge Paul Donahue, Chief Enrico D’Alessandro (NYS University PD Director, Morrisville State College), Colgate University Campus Public Safety Director William Ferguson, Cazenovia College Campus Safety Director Thomas Engelmann