Groton prevention group reminds parents about hosting safe teen parties

Groton — With prom season beginning, the Groton Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention is reminding parents to use caution when hosting parties for teenagers and be aware of state laws about hosting.

“Be clear about your rules and expectations about alcohol and drug use,” Carolyn Wilson, the alliance coordinator said in a news release. A 2016 survey of Groton teenagers found 87 percent believe their parents would disapprove of them using drugs, but 64 percent reported their parents have clear rules.

“There is a disconnect between unspoken expectations and verbalized clear rules,” said Wilson, also health program coordinator at Ledge Light Health District. “Speak up, don’t assume they know how you feel."

Local schools host drug and alcohol-free graduation parties every year, said Deborah Johnson, a member of Groton Parent Council.

“Parent volunteers and community members and local businesses fundraise all year so we can provide a fun and safe party for the kids," she said in the news release. "Parents don’t have to worry about what their child is doing, because they know where they are.”

But not everyone attends the alcohol-free parties. Wilson said it’s important for parents to know the legal consequences of serving alcohol to minors.

State law prohibits anyone who owns or controls private property from allowing anyone under age 21 to possess alcohol on their property. The social host law also requires a person who knows that a minor has alcohol to try to stop it.

For failing to stop the possession, the law extends liability to a person "who acts recklessly or with criminal negligence" and increases the penalty to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a up to one year in prison or a $2,000 fine, the release said.

Groton Town Police will conduct extra enforcement, including compliance checks and DUI enforcement, during prom and graduation season, Police Chief L.J. Fusaro said in the release.

He advised parents to establish curfews, monitor their child’s activities and clearly communicate their expectations. “You may not think your kids are listening to you, but they are. Communicate the negative effects of drugs and alcohol as well as what you expect from your child,” he said.

Fusaro also encouraged parents to use social media to keep one another updated.

Groton has a party patrol hotline to report parties with underage drinking or drug use. The number is (860) 445-5291.

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