2013-11-06 / Front Page

‘Safe Homes’ pledges aim to stop underage drinking

By JESSICA D’AMICO
Staff Writer

METUCHEN — Underage drinking will be thwarted in the borough if one committee’s initiative succeeds in getting families to take the Safe Homes pledge.

“It’s something we’re trying to start in Metuchen,” said Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen, liaison to the Metuchen Youth Services Board/Municipal Alliance Committee, which is seeking to launch the program.

Local families that register as a Safe Home would be making a promise not to serve alcohol or allow it in their homes for underage drinkers. This would entail supervising parties or other gatherings among youths to ensure that no drinking is taking place.

“We adults have to be good examples for the kids,” Rasmussen said.

She said similar programs are in place nationwide, and the committee is looking at the ways in which they have been implemented elsewhere to glean ideas about what would work best in Metuchen.

The Youth Services Board/Municipal Alliance Committee provided preliminary information on the fledgling program at Metuchen High School’s Back to School Night in 2012, and a number of parents signed up to indicate their interest, according to Rasmussen.

Still, some kinks must be worked out. She said the organization wants to get the Metuchen Board of Education on board, along with getting clearance from borough officials.

Once the program is off the ground, parents who are signed up as a Safe Home will have access to a list of other such homes in the borough. If a teen wants to attend a party, parents in the program will be able to check whether the location is a place where they can send their child without fear of alcohol being available.

“The thing is, it would be confidential, so only people who sign up would know who’s on it,” Rasmussen said, adding that the list may be kept on a website or in a closed Facebook group.

Although the program would be primarily aimed at high school students, parents of younger students are also welcome to take the pledge, as underage drinking can sometimes start in seventh- or eighth grade, according to Rasmussen.

She pointed out the danger to children’s developing bodies that can come from alcohol consumption at such a young age.

“It’s important, because there are — all over, not just in Metuchen — kids [who] get to a certain age and they think they can drink,” she said. “We have to bring home the fact to them that it’s just not good for you.”

Parents can get more information on the program or get involved by filling out the form at www.metuchennj.org/MMA/contact mma.html.

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