OP-ED: This Holiday Season Help Keep Alcohol Out Of Teens’ Hands

Watertown officials urge parents to keep an eye on their teens over the holidays to make sure they do not drink alcohol.

With the holiday season upon us once again, as we prepare for joyful celebrations with family and friends, the Watertown Youth Coalition (WYC), Wayside Multi-Center, and the Watertown Police and Public Schools, would like to remind all adults in the community to help prevent teens from drinking alcohol. Teen alcohol use can lead to unsafe behaviors that put their health and safety at-risk. Underage drinking affects everyone in the community and if we work together we can continue to ensure the healthy and safe development of our youth. After all, every year a teen does not use alcohol, the odds of lifelong dependence decreases by 15 percent.

In April 2012, the Watertown Youth Coalition administered the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to Watertown High (WHS) and Middle School (WMS) students. The survey is a tool to track health-risk behaviors of Watertown youth. Good news! Survey results show that underage drinking among WHS students continues to decrease with over two thirds of the students surveyed reporting they did not drink alcohol in the past 30 days. However, the majority of students who drink reported getting alcohol from older siblings /friends (26 percent) or ata house party with/without adults present (21 percent).

Often times when teens drink, they drink too much. Teens who drink alcohol are more likely to use other drugs and risk experiencing alcohol poisoning, car crashes, injuries, violence, changes in brain development, or unprotected and unwanted sex. Other negative consequences of underage drinking may also include losing parents’ trust, being arrested and losing the privilege to participate in sports. It is up to all of us to help them make healthy decisions and avoid these negative consequences.

The Watertown Youth Coalition continues to focus on initiatives such as the Talk it Up, Lock it Up campaign which aims to help parents talk to their kids about not drinking and teaches ways to keep alcohol away from teens. The WYC is currently working on re-designing our current Be A Better You campaign which aims to increase the number of youth who do not drink by highlighting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and promoting healthy alternatives to drinking and using drugs. Stay tuned as a new youth inspired campaign is unveiled in early 2013. As a parent or guardian you can and do make a difference!


Here are some ways you can reduce teen drinking:

1. Keep alcohol in a secure location preferably in locked cabinets. Even if you trust your teen, your teen’s friend may be tempted by what’s available in your home.

2. If you are hosting a party, do not leave unsupervised alcohol around where it is accessible to underage guests and tell other relatives including your adult children notto serve alcohol to your child under the age of 21.

3. Let your child know what you expect. Tell your teen that adults may be drinking during the holidays but under no circumstances is he/she allowed to drink alcohol.

4. Check on the details, if your child is attending a party. Find out if there will be parental supervision and be sure no alcohol will be available at the parties your teen will be attending.

5. Never serve alcohol to anyone under 21 and don’t allow children to serve alcohol to others. It is illegal to serve or provide alcohol to underage youth or allow them to drink alcohol in your home or on other property you control. If you do, you may be prosecuted criminally. (See box below)

6. Make sure not to leave your teens’ home alone when you go out of town. Word gets out quickly and a drinking party can develop even without your child’s consent. You could then be civilly liable if a partygoer injures himself/herself.

7. Do not relax your family rules with your own teens during the holidays - it will be hard to return to previous expectations.


The Watertown Youth Coalition is comprised of adults, youth, law enforcement, businesses, schools, health department, churches, and others who are committed to working together to promote healthy alternatives to youth partying and to reduce underage use of alcohol and other drugs. Please help be part of the solution and do what you can to reduce youth access to alcohol. Please join the efforts of the Youth Coalition. Visit us at www.watertownyouthcoalition.org or contact us at 617-926-3600 x307 or melanie_stpierre@waysideyouth.org. On behalf of the Watertown Youth Coalition, the Watertown Police and Schools, and Wayside Multi-Service Center, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.


Minors and Serving Alcohol:
  • If you are 21 or older it is illegal to buy or supply alcohol to individuals under 21 or to allow them to drink in a place under your control.
  • When you host a party where alcohol is served you are held liable whether the host is an adult or a minor.
  • The host is civilly responsible for any injury that occurs as a result of an intoxicated person from their event, injuring him/herself or another person. Injuries may include alcohol poisoning, car accidents and other injuries.
  • Civil Liability: There are no limits to the amount of money you can lose if you are sued.
  • Criminal Penalties: Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000


Chief Edward Deveau
Laura Kurman, MA, LMFT Wayside Multi-Service Center
Dr. Jean Fitzgerald, Superintendant of Schools
Steven Watson, WHS Headmaster
J. Kimo Carter, WMS Principal


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