A unified message for prom, graduation parties

During the prom and graduation season, Chautauqua Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Council and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office have joined forces to prevent adult hosted drinking parties in Chautauqua County using the Parents Who Host Lose the Most: Don’t Be a Party to Teenage Drinking campaign.

“It’s a community effort,” said Pat Munson, executive director of CASAC, “That alerts parents to the legal and health related consequences of purchasing, providing or pouring alcohol for anyone under age 21, other than their own child.”

As part of the campaign, CASAC will be disseminating information about the dangers of underage drinking, the legal consequences of hosting underage drinking in your home and how parents can host safe and fun alcohol free events for youth.

In addition to the planned public information effort, Sheriff Gerace said that local law enforcement led by the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office may be conducting alcohol age compliance checks in the area to confirm that local vendors comply with laws prohibiting the sales of alcohol to anyone under age 21.

Parents play a major role in their children’s choices about alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Munson added, “In Chautauqua County, parents can be commended for efforts to protect their children from using these drugs.” As indicated in a 2011 survey administered by CASAC to 7th through 12th grade students in Chautauqua County, over 75 percent of students have not used alcohol in the last 30 days (prior to the survey), 84 percent have not used marijuana in the last 30 days and over 93 percent have not used prescription pain meds in the last 30 days.

While these statistics indicate that parents and others are doing something right locally in regard to prevention efforts, they do indicate that the most popular drug for teenagers in our county is alcohol by far.

“Scientific research shows the serious and damaging effects of alcohol on the developing brain of youth under the age of 21,” said Munson. “This campaign educates parents about the laws and safety risks involved in underage drinking parties, and encourages a unified message that teen alcohol consumption is unhealthy, unsafe and unacceptable.”

Research shows that most teenagers appreciate it when their parents set boundaries and establish expectations that are fairly enforced.

Gerace added, “Adults providing alcohol to underage youth sends a mixed message and can only add to a teenager’s confusion about the acceptability of drinking. They are also sending the message to teens that they do not have to obey the law.”

Both Munson and Gerace ask that the community be unified in the message of the Parents Who Host campaign, a program of the Drug Free Action Alliance. CASAC participates in the Sheriff Office STOP-DWI campaigns.

For further information about CASAC programs and services, call the Jamestown office at 664-3608, or the Dunkirk office at 366-4623, or go to CASAC’s website,