Commentary — The pitfalls of party hosting

We are approaching the time of year marked by many happy occasions, prom and graduation celebrations, as well as impending summer break. Inevitably, parents will be faced with the decision of whether to host a teen party where alcohol may be involved. We want to take this opportunity to remind parents of the potential pitfalls of these gatherings, as well as the resources and supports available.

Times have changed, and the risks of hosting a party are now greater for both youth and homeowners. With social media, parties can get out of control quickly, making it impossible to manage the number of guests. The drinks have changed, as have the way our teens drink. Youth may also be under the influence of marijuana, prescription medications, or other illicit drugs – combining alcohol with other drugs can have catastrophic results. Drinking can result in property damage and theft, fights, accidents, alcohol poisoning, and sexual assault. We also know more now about how alcohol damages the developing teenage brain, which can have long-lasting effects.

Parents need to know that Connecticut’s Social Host Law holds anyone in control of a property responsible for any underage drinking that occurs there; penalties include fines up to $2,000 per minor and potential jail time. Hosting parties of this nature can also result in civil lawsuits for injury or damages, and increased homeowner premiums.

We ask Trumbull parents to resist the urge to host a party where teens can drink. The Trumbull Police Department operates an anonymous TipsLine where residents can report underage drinking and drug use by texting “TRPD” and the details to 274637 (CRIMES) or by using the TipSubmit app. With funding from the Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking and Drugs, the police department also operates additional patrols throughout town and has trained our officers in party dispersal techniques to ensure the safety of our teens.

We also understand that sometimes even with the best planning and intentions, parents and teens find themselves in a situation where a party is out of control. We urge you to reach out to the police – the decision to not ask for help can have tragic consequences. Call the Trumbull Police at 911 or at the main dispatch number (203)261-3665 and ask for help. The police have training in how to deal with crowds of teens and can help you ensure that guests get home safely. If you suspect anyone is too inebriated or incapacitated, please call 911 immediately.

Ultimately, the health and safety of Trumbull’s youth is paramount. One thing is clear – parents have the power to help our teens stay safe and free of alcohol and drugs. You are the greatest influence on your teens and their decisions. Help us stand the line against underage drinking and drug use. We wish you and your families a safe and happy summer.

Police Chief Michael Lombardo

Melissa McGarry, Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking & Drugs

First Selectman Vicki Tesoro

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