When Ledyard middle school and high school students confessed that they’re drinking alcohol at home, with or without their parents’ permission, Karensa Mansfield decided it was time to change people’s minds.
“It just brought attention to the fact that we know where they're drinking and we should try to educate parents and teens about the harmful effects of underage drinking,” she said of the surveys. “And try to change those peer and family norms about underage drinking.”
Underage drinking is “a major health problem,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and that “11 percent of alcohol consumed in the United States is consumed by 12- to 20-year olds.
Mansfield said that drinking could cause significant damage to the brain while it is still developing and that drinking should not be permitted while it’s still vulnerable.
Mansfield is a senior program coordinator with Ledge Light Health District and heads the Ledyard Safe Teens Coalition, which is in the first stages of some anti-drinking initiatives and for now, they’re asking the police department to keep an extra sharp eye out for house parties and parties in the woods.
The Ledge Light Health District received a 4-year grant from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which will pay for an extra patrol officer on nights like tonight to be on the look out.
Mansfield said, “there were no issues last weekend, no house parties or parties in the woods.”
Ledyard Police Lt. Michael Finkelstein said the extra police officer will be looking for signs of large gatherings and respond to reports of parties occurring.
Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:
- School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
- Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
- Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
- Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
- Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
- Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
- Physical and sexual assault.
- Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
- Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
- Memory problems.
- Abuse of other drugs.
- Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
- Death from alcohol poisoning.
Ledge Light also conducted its own compliance check on Ledyard liquor stores last week and all but one store asked the minor for an ID. The test resulted in one sale to a minor, out of five stores tested.
According to the report, the clerk at said, “you are under 21!” and watched the minor’s vehicle drive away. The clerk at the said “1994. That’s not going to work,” and the clerk at Bear’s Place said, “no my friend.”
But, a purchase was made at Starr Wood Market when the clerk did not ask the minor for an ID. Ledge Light has offered to educate and train employees about the rules and laws on selling alcohol.