To the Editors:

Wilton High School’s Homecoming is just around the corner, and our young people are enjoying many of the traditions and rites of passage of the teen years. Some parents will be faced with the decision of whether to host a teen party where alcohol may be involved. We want to remind parents of the potential pitfalls of these gatherings, as well as the resources and supports available.

Times have changed and the risks of hosting a party are now greater for both youth and homeowners. With social media, parties can get out of control quickly, making it impossible to manage the number of guests. The drinks have changed, as have the way our kids drink. Parties with alcohol also often include vaping, marijuana, prescription medications, as well as other illicit drugs. Drinking can result in property damage and theft, fights, accidents, alcohol poisoning, and sexual assault. We also know more now about how alcohol damages the developing teenage brain, which can have long-lasting effects.

Parents need to know that Connecticut’s Social Host Law holds anyone in control of a property responsible for any underage drinking that occurs there; penalties include fines up to $2,000 per minor and potential jail time. Hosting parties of this nature can also result in civil lawsuits for injury or damages, and increased homeowner premiums.

We ask Wilton parents to resist the urge to host a party where teens can drink. The Wilton Police Department operates an anonymous TipsLine where residents can report underage drinking and drug use by calling 203-563-0256 or e-mailing the details to crime.watch@wiltonct.org.

We also understand that sometimes even with the best planning and intentions, parents and teens find themselves in a situation where a party is out of control. We urge you to reach out to the police — the decision to not ask for help can have tragic consequences. Call the Wilton Police at 911 or at the main dispatch number 203-834-6260 and ask for help. The police have training in dealing with juveniles and can help you ensure that guests get home safely. If you suspect anyone is too inebriated or incapacitated, please call 911 immediately.

If you have concerns about your own teen’s use of harmful substances, Wilton Youth Services can help by providing problem assessment, referrals to resources, and counseling services. All services are confidential and provided by licensed clinical social workers. Don’t hesitate to be in touch by calling 203-834-6241.

Ultimately, the health and safety of Wilton’s kids is paramount. One thing is clear, parents have the power to help our teens stay safe and free of alcohol and drugs. You are the greatest influence on your kids and their decisions. Help us stand the line against underage drinking and drug use.

Chief John Lynch

Captain Robert Cipolla

Wilton Police Department

Colleen Fawcett, LCSW

Wilton Youth Services

Genevieve Eason

Wilton Youth Council