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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    East Haven Groups Address Underage Drinking

    East Haven's Youth Service Bureau and Youth Services Commission are currently focused on addressing the challenging issue of underage drinking. They were selected, from a group of several towns, by The Connection, Inc.-a state-based non-profit human service and community development agency-to collaborate with the agency on an underage drinking prevention project.

    The main objective for the group is to create a strategic plan to stop underage drinking in town.

    For the last six months, they have been meeting to build that plan, with the next meeting slated for Thursday, Dec. 16 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the town's Teen Center.

    Youth Service Bureau Coordinator Bob Petrucelli explained that underage drinking prevention is a community issue and that's one reason why he welcomes members from the community to attend a meeting and help with the cause.

    "You can attack the problem from a number of different perspectives," Petrucelli said.

    Petrucelli said work on the underage drinking prevention project will soon kick into high gear when the group begins conducting a survey of town students in grades 6 through 12.

    "The survey will give us some baseline data on underage drinking and why kids might choose to drink," said Petrucelli.

    It will be an anonymous, web-based survey, and Petrucelli said he's hopeful it will yield very valuable data. Knowing that baseline data will be important when the town seeks grants to help address the issue, he added. For instance, questions about usage rates will provide information that could help the town if it seeks grant money to lower those rates.

    The group's strategic plan has been approved by the state and it will begin creating marketing campaigns and educational campaigns around underage drinking prevention, Petrucelli said. The campaigns will target the entire community, including parents and store merchants (who could learn how to better identify fake IDs, for instance).

    The group also wants to help facilitate the East Haven Police Department's ability to conduct compliance checks at restaurants and liquor stores to ensure they are not serving and selling alcoholic beverages to underage patrons.

    "It's a community issue and we'll need all sectors of the community to address the issue," said Petrucelli.

    So far, the group, noted Petrucelli, has received much support from various town entities, from the mayor's office to the school superintendent's office.

    In fact, Petrucelli said one of the reasons the group was selected by The Connection, Inc., was because of the presence in town of the Youth Services Commission, which comprises five adult and four teen members. The commission was formed about two years ago by the East Haven Town Council to guide the Youth Service Bureau.

    Petrucelli explained that funding is provided by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which is funneled through to The Connection, Inc., and then to the Town of East Haven.

    Residents interested in learning more about the work of the Youth Service Bureau and the Youth Services Commission are encouraged to attend next week's meeting. For additional information, contact Petrucelli at 203-468-3297, ext. 14 or ehc.bob@snet.net.

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