An Open Letter to Parents: Help Prevent Underage Alcohol or Substance Use

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Submitted by
Police Chief Robert Bongiorno and
Bedford Youth and Family Services Director Sue Baldauf

Fall 2014

Dear Parents,

We need your help. The Police have been working with the schools and Youth and Family Services on ensuring that our youth stay safe from harm, especially with alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use. We provide education and opportunities to learn from real life examples whenever we can and are aware of potential risks. With the incidents of the last year at two major school dances and past and recent incidents at house parties in Bedford, we feel we need to re-enlist your cooperation in working together to ensure our youth do not engage in underage alcohol or substance use.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Talk to your kids. Teens whose parents talk with them regularly about drugs and alcohol are 42% less likely to use substances than those whose parents don’t. Tell your teens that you expect them not to use alcohol or other drugs at school events or at parties.
  • Never leave your child home alone unsupervised for extended periods of time. If an emergency or unexpected absence occurs, provide other adult supervision or sign the Police Department’s “Away Book” so that an officer can monitor your home daily for unwanted or unsupervised parties.
  • Make sure alcohol is in a locked cabinet inaccessible to your child as well as any prescribed medication or firearm that could be potentially hazardous to an inquisitive youth.
  • Be sure you are home and available if you child or teen is having friends over and supervise their activities, ensuring that no one is drinking or doing anything unsafe.
  • If your child is going to a friend’s house, check with that parent to be sure they will be at home supervising as you would be in your home. Safe Homes parents know this already – consider signing up if you have not at www.bedfordma.gov/youth and click on “Safe Homes” in the menu.
  • Know that if you are dropping your child off at a home sporting event or other large school activity, there may be more time and freedom for your son or daughter to make a poor choice and drink, smoke pot, or engage in some other risky activity. Be clear about your expectations for their behavior and check in with them about consequences if they violate your trust.

Our goal in talking to you seriously now is to avoid having to do it after a youth accident or death. While we are aware that a tragedy often brings communities together around these issues, we want to prevent the tragedy here and bring you together before that happens.

Please contact any of us if you have other ideas of how to decrease risky behavior on the part of our youth, if you think there are other things we can be doing to educate and protect them. We are open to any and all suggestions.

Thank you for working with to protect our kids!

Sincerely,

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