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Northampton Prevention Coalition launches online “Safe Homes” program to curb underage drinking

A new “Safe Homes” program aimed at encouraging families to ban teen alcohol and drug use in their homes is now online.

Sponsored by the Northampton Prevention Coalition, the program offers a network of families at JFK Middle School, Northampton High School and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School who have agreed to list their contact information in a Safe Homes directory.

Families who sign up agree:

∎ Not to serve alcohol to teens or allow teens to use drugs or alcohol in their homes;

∎ To actively supervise teen gatherings in their homes;

∎ To be open to communication with other parents.

Marisa Hebble, the coalition’s community health specialist, said research shows teens are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs if they believe parents in the community don’t support those behaviors.

The new program “is a great way to counter the myth that you’re the only parent with these rules,” Hebble said, in a press release announcing the program’s launch online.

A description of Safe Homes on the coalition’s website also points out that under state law, providing alcohol to people under 21 years old is a crime punishable by a fine of not more than $2,000 or a year in jail — or both. In cases where underage drinking leads to harm, fines can be up to $150,000 and sentences up to 10 years in jail.

Information on how to sign up for the Safe Homes program is available on the prevention coalition’s website.

— BARBARA SOLOW

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