Graduating from high school is a milestone in one's life and signifies a major step toward the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood. All of us at the Novi Police Department and throughout City government realize this is a joyous time and want it to be the happiest occasion possible. Too often, however, one bad decision results in a tragedy for not only one young person, but their family, friends, and an entire community.
It is unfortunate that some of our youth under the age of 21 are making the unsafe and illegal decision to drink. Aided and abetted by the very adults charged with their safety, teens too often confuse celebration with intoxication, leaving them at risk for serious consequences associated with consuming alcohol. It is important that parents and young people understand the ramifications and deadly consequences which can result from underage alcohol drinking. The Novi Police Department strongly discourages this unlawful activity and will remain proactive in the illegal use of alcohol by our young people.
Research conducted for The Century Council by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) reveals 65 percent of individuals between the ages of 10 and 18 who had consumed alcohol in the past year report obtaining alcohol from family and friends. A separate survey conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide revealed a majority of parents (53%) also believe family and friends are the leading source of alcohol for children between the ages of 10 and 18.
At the same time as both parents and kids identify family and friends as the primary source of beverage alcohol, research also shows that parents are the most important influence in a child’s decision whether or not to drink beverage alcohol. Still, a plethora of house parties reveal a commonly held view among adults that allowing teens to drink in private homes will keep them safe.
Individuals under the age of 21 report their heaviest drinking at large parties with peers in someone else’s residence where most of the attendees are underage. In some cases, these parties are held without the parent’s knowledge. However, many parents have a high tolerance for teen parties, allowing them to occur on their property often without any supervision. Not only are these parents enabling people under the age of 21 to violate the law, but they are also violating the law themselves.
The Novi Police Department takes pride in its' proactive partnerships with several community organizations, including the schools, municipal court, and local health care organizations, and has long been a proponent of the public awareness campaign "Parents Who Host Lose the Most – Don’t Be a Party to Teenage Drinking." We urge you to join us in strongly supporting zero tolerance for underage drinking and illegal drug use.
Here’s what you can do:
Keep an open line of communication with your teen, but be firm in the "no alcohol use before age 21" message you give your student.
Never host or provide alcohol to anyone under 21. It’s illegal, unsafe, unhealthy and it can have deadly results.
Don’t allow your student to host or attend a party that is unsupervised by adults. Call the adult in charge of any party your teen attends. Make sure you are in agreement about what the adult supervision will be.
As an adult role model if you drink, consider making low-risk drinking choices, only 1 drink per hour and no more than 3 drinks per occasion. Never drink and drive. Your actions speak louder than words.
Talk to your teen about how to say no to risky situations involving alcohol or drugs and still save face with their friends. Report underage drinking to your local law enforcement.
Tell your teen that they can call you at any time they are in a risky situation. No questions asked.
Team up and talk with other parents.
Provide opportunities for your student to host safe, alcohol-free parties and activities.
If you suspect your student has an alcohol or drug problem, seek help. Contact your school counseling office or your local Youth Assistance Office.
Remember to let your student know you love them.
Help your child feel good about him/her self and develop strong values. Tell them you place high value on their special qualities and that drugs and alcohol will destroy those qualities. Discuss core values such as honesty and responsibility.
The best way to honor teens at graduation is to help them safely celebrate their achievement. Hosting alcohol-free parties, clearly communicating expectations for personal behavior, and enforcing consequences for violating the rules are just a few good ways to start.
The graduates have done their work. Now it is time to do ours. As parents and responsible community members, lets work together to ensure this is one of the happiest memories of your child’s life and not a memory which could easily end with tragic results.
If I or any member of the Novi Police Department can ever assist you, please do not hesitate to contact me at 248-347-0504 or via email.
David E. Molloy
Chief of Police
Novi Police Department