On Thursday afternoon my son sent me a text. “Are you going to be home by 7:00?” it said. I thought he wanted me to drive him to martial arts class. As it turned out, he wanted me to drive myself to Darien High School. He wanted me to hear former NBA player Chris Herren speak about his struggle to overcome substance abuse.
This opinion piece/announcement is by Carrie Bernier, executive director of the Community Fund of Darien:
The Community Fund’s Thriving Youth Task Force has set its sights on reducing teenage binge drinking in Darien. When they launched the “Our Darien 06820” campaign last winter, they hoped to hit a nerve locally with parents and teens. They didn’t suspect that it would strike a chord nationally, too. Emily Larkin, The Community Fund of Darien’s Thriving Youth director, recently returned from California after presenting Darien’s innovative “06820” campaign to a national audience of substance abuse professionals.
Darien’s binge drinking prevention campaign is the product of a collaboration between The Community Fund of Darien, the Thriving Youth Task Force and the creative team at Colangelo Synergy Marketing.
When police arrived at a Silver Lakes Drive home after a report of a loud party and saw teenagers running off toward woods in back, near New Haven Line railroad tracks, Metro-North was contacted and all train traffic was halted, police said. In a lucky break for Metro-North riders, the incident happened at 1:15 a.m., Saturday, when traffic was very light. Unluckily for the parents at the house on 17 Silver Lakes Drive, police charged them with permitting people under 21 years old to possess alcohol on their property. Darien police described what happened with this account of the incident (including accusations not proven in court):
After someone complained to police of loud noise coming from the area of the house, officers arrived at the scene and saw several people talking loudly in front of the home and other people, believed to be teenagers, running from the place into nearby woods. Police also saw empty beer cans on the garage floor and tables set up to hold beer cans and other alcoholic beverage containers.
A father called to 911 when his 16-year-old daughter became semi-conscious after he picked her up from a house on Shady Acres Road, which led to police finding a teen drinking party, Darien police said. Police said they charged the 17-year-old host of the party with alcohol- and marijuana-related offenses. Police described what happened with this account, including accusations not proven in court:
At about midnight on Saturday, April 15, the father called 911 to get first responders to his Gardiner Street home, where he had just brought her daughter from a residence on Shady Acres Road.
The father told police that she had called him for a ride. Police said she appeared “incapacitated” and it was evident she was heavily intoxicated.
The Thriving Youth Task Force and The Community Fund of Darien must be commended for providing reliable information about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. ____________
Editor’s note: This commentary by Dr. Jamie Roach-Murray of Darien, who has been a practicing pediatrician in Darien and now concentrates on public health and health policy. It was submitted as a letter to the editor by the Thriving Youth Task Force, of which she is a member. Darienite.com is treating this as an op-ed, adding subheadings, weblinks and images. At the bottom, we’ve added a video of a recent panel discussion in New Canaan where Roach-Murray spoke.
Teenagers are not ready for alcohol, which is particularly dangerous for them. Their parents should have zero tolerance for their drinking and never allow them to drink. Teens need to learn ways of avoiding peer pressure to drink. Those were some of the points made Monday night by Frank Bartolomeo, who’s been a professional counselor for teenagers and a researcher on adolescent development. Bartolomeo talked during a panel discussion Monday night after the audience saw the documentary “Haze” about the dangers of teen and young adult binge drinking.
After a documentary film about the dangers of binge drinking among teenagers and young adults was shown at Darien Library on Monday night, James Palmieri, recently the school resource officer at Darien High School, told the audience that, just as in the documentary, a Darien teenager had died from the affects of binging on alcohol when his friends had left him. “This isn’t something that happens [only] in other places,” Palmieri, now a detective with Darien police after 4 1/2 years as the department’s school resource officer at the high school. He was speaking as part of a panel discussing binge drinking after the audience of about 150 saw the movie “Haze.” “[I]n some cases, one of which I was directly involved with, the kid ended up dying purely because he drank too much, and his friends didn’t want to deal with him,” Palmieri said. “One of them was thrown in an Uber [driving service car] and sent home, and you know, circumstances unfolded, and he ended up dying.”
Before the documentary “Haze” was shown to about 150 people, mostly high school students, at a meeting Monday night sponsored by a coalition of groups in town concerned about under-age binge drinking, Suzanne Denunzio, a Darien parent, got up to speak. The documentary is about how a University of Colorado freshman from Greenwich died from alcohol poisoning in his first month at school. He was binge drinking as part of a pledging ordeal to get into a campus fraternity. Denunzio is a friend of the family of the dead student. We thought what she had to say was worth publishing in full and especially worth the time of any parent with teenage children, so we asked her to give us her prepared statement.