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Low Turnout at Teen Drinking Talk Raises Red Flag

The low turnout for a Stamford community forum Tuesday night on teen alcohol use raised concerns that parents really don’t know what their kids are doing. The meeting at Stamford High School came on the heels of recent drinking incidents in Stamford and Greenwich that sent teens to the hospital.

“We need to reach out to the parents who are not here,” said panel member Matthew Maddox. The Stamford and New Canaan attorney added that one unfortunate tendency among parents is to overestimate their kids’ abilities.

Edward Moran, a social worker at Family Centers , said, "What parents need to keep in mind is that [teenagers] are struggling to get through the day, fit in and be socially successful."

And using alcohol during this struggle can have serious consequences. Children who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency, according to the Lower Fairfield County Regional Action Council . And 65 percent of teens say they get their alcohol from family and friends , the council reports.

Kathy Steiner, a health teacher at Greenwich High School, gave a vivid analogy of parenting. "Think about going over a beautiful canyon … you're going over a bridge with no guard rails," she said. "You are tentatively walking across because you're scared, but there is so much beauty you just want to take it in. But you don't know where your boundaries are. As soon as there are guard railings, you feel more secure and walk across the bridge."

Edie Hagendoorn, the mother of two teens, said parents should have their radar on at all times. "The best advice is to know your kids, smell them, know who they hang out with and what they do," she said. "Sure, you usually won’t get straight answers. Best guide to them — be involved without hovering and hope they listen to advice."

How do you talk to your teen about alcohol use? Leave your thoughts below or on Facebook !

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