Underage Drinking: Success Stories

         

Underage

Drinking: Success Stories

 

 

Bristol, Connecticut – June

5, 2001

 

Scope

of Problem

Prevention

Strategies

Learn

More

Success

Stories

Selected

Resources

 

With

support from the OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative,

community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned

citizens are working collaboratively to change local ordinances and

enforcement practices.

 

Bristol

,

Connecticut

Closes Loophole 

to

Facilitate Party Patrol Enforcement

The

city of

Bristol,

Connecticut,

has been actively addressing

the problem of underage drinking for several years.

The most recent policy change prohibits ??possession?? of

alcoholic beverages by minors.  Though

the ordinance may seem a bit redundant as state law prohibits the

??provision?? of alcohol to persons younger than age 21, anyone

familiar with the task of social availability enforcement understands that

?provision? and ?possession? can have vastly different meanings. 

The new ordinance went into effect in January and greatly enhances

law enforcement?s ability to cite minors who participate in underage

drinking parties on private property. 

It is also an excellent example of how concerned citizens and

committed political leaders can effect positive change.

 

A

former truant officer,

Bristol

?s Mayor Frank Nocastro?s

interest in youth-related issues is well known. 

Several years ago, he convened a committee to review local

alcohol-related ordinances and identify policies that would strengthen

existing law. The mayor?s Zero Tolerance Commission on Underage

Drinking, chaired by a member of the City Council consisted of

representatives from the business community, health-related agencies, the

police department, schools, private organizations, parents, and other

citizens.  That the city

prohibit possession of alcohol by minors was among the commission?s

recommendations.  It was

believed that this policy would enable more effective social availability

enforcement.

 

Prior

to the ordinance?s passage, the local prevention coalition, The Bristol

Community Wellness Coalition, launched a citywide public awareness

campaign targeting parents as

well as youth.  One program

that aired on public access television featured a local representative to

the state assembly, a city council member, and a local health organization

serving youth, all of whom expressed complete support for the law and

certainty that it could and would be enforced in a fair manner. 

The city?s policy chief concurred in a public hearing on the

proposed ordinance.  And

although some youth and parents were distressed that the city council was

considering the policy, many other youth and parents recognized and

expressed a need for the policy.  In

the end, the ordinance was passed by the city council with widespread

support.

Support

from

Connecticut

?s Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws grant has enabled enforcement of the

new ordinance as well as greater enforcement of all other alcohol-related

laws, such as retail compliance checks. The police department will also

provide quarterly reports on alcohol enforcement efforts and further

increase the level of alcohol enforcement during the summer months when

youth are out of school. 

The

change in policy and enforcement practice has been widely publicized among

youth through the Bristol Community Wellness Coalition?s activities.

These activities also include the ?provision? of alternative

activities developed by youth for youth and educational efforts directed

at parents.  The current

billboard campaign encourages parents to be aware of what their children

do when they socialize.  Basing

statistics a recent survey of local youth, the billboard message reads,

?One-fourth of

Bristol

high school students were drunk

last weekend.  Was yours one of

them??

For

more information contact:  Patricia

Checko, Director of Health, Bristol Health District and Chair, Bristol

Community Wellness Coalition (860) 584-7682 or [email protected]

 

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