City, state and medical officials today warned that parents need to take stronger roles in curbing the underage drinking of teens going to concerts or risk the possibility of serious injury or death from alcohol poisoning.
The officials in an unprecedented press conference at the Hartford Police Department said that binge drinking and "guzzling" alcohol has become so commonplace that they now are concerned about teens risking their lives. In the last few years emergency rooms at Hartford's three major hospitals have been overrun by teens brought in after consuming too much beer, liquor and other substances.
Officials also warned parents and teens that enforcement is being ratcheted up as the first concert of the summer season at the Comcast Theatre is held on Saturday, March 18, 2013, and throughout the concert season.
"Quite frankly, I am worried that a teen will be found dead under the bushes. That is how serious this is becoming,” said Steven Wolf, M.D., chairman of the Emergency Medicine at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, and chairman of the North Central Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee.
"Parents need to reel their teens in and keep a much closer eye on them. Law enforcement will be doing its part too, but that could be too late if the teen has alcohol poisoning," he added.
“The City will do everything possible to keep these teenagers safe but we can only go so far,” said Mayor Segarra. “Parents must be involved in order to truly create a shift in behavior. It’s important to note that the majority of the teenagers who are drinking at concerts are not Hartford residents but it’s a problem in our City and we have a responsibility to address it.”
Hospital and law enforcement officials report that many parents of teen concert-goers are not accepting the responsibility that their teens are drinking and in some cases drinking in so much excess that their health is jeopardized. Teens either in possession of alcohol or driving under the influence face the tough license suspensions that are part of Connecticut's zero-tolerance for underage drinking as well as drinking and driving.
"This is a problem that both parents and teens need to address at home. If not, then the consequences of their actions can reach the law enforcement levels that bring significant penalties lasting long after the teen sobers up," said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey.
The officials from the city, state, medical and law enforcement organizations asked parents to keeping their teens safe by knowing where and with whom the teen is going to the concern, do not drop off the teen at unsupervised locations, and most importantly, talk to the teen about the affects alcohol abuse can have on their health and safety.
They also need to set significant consequences for behavior that violates the rules set at home, the officials said.
“The underage drinking issue many times leads to tragedy. State and Local Police strictly enforce all laws in an effort to ensure the safety of all teens. The consequences of one’s actions can last a long time” said Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police.
“Underage patrons that are in possession of an open container of alcohol will be issued a Hartford Community Court Summons for violating the City of Hartford’s Public Drinking Ordinance (4-3). This applies to anyone under the age of 21,” said Hartford Police Chief James C. Rovella. “Our goal is to create a safe environment for all concert goers while deterring the extensive underage drinking that occurs in and around the concert venue.”