The following letter was written by Gail Barry, a very dedicated member of MMAC the Millburn Municipal Alliance Committee for drug awareness:

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Entering a Dangerous Season:

Statistics show that Prom, Exam and Graduation season, the months of May and June, are the most dangerous time of the year for many teens. One-third of the alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens each year occur during these months.  Many students will try anything to gain that extra edge at this time of year.  Alcohol and prescription drugs often become a teens choice to ease pressure, reduce pain, increase focus and enhance fun.  On the heels of MMAC’s April Empower hour’s “Peeking Behind the Mask”, and FAMILY MEAL WEEK, this is a critical time to be sure that we have clear direct communications within our community and our homes.  Communicate your family values and consequences for inappropriate use. No HS student is of legal age to consume alcohol.

This is a time when celebrations can turn dangerous.  Much community and family dialogue should be aimed at curtailing alcohol use before, during and after these special events.  It is important for adults and parents to model behaviors and for parents to not only talk to teens about their plans but listen to their thoughts, intentions and concerns.  Some may consider perhaps utilizing some form of a “sober contract,” a promise that students sign agreeing to remain alcohol and drug free during the prom and graduation season.  Others may simply set limits and define consequences.  Whatever parenting style you choose, be sure it includes a conversation with your teens regarding underage drinking and illegal drug use during these high risk celebrations.  Don’t let these events pass and then look back and wish you had engaged in a “courageous conversation”.  “Prom and graduation season is here again – this is a time for celebration,” says Susan Molinari, a former Chairman of The Century Council. “Unfortunately, these happy occasions sometimes involve underage drinking which can result in tragedy. It is no secret that children under 21 years old are drinking. It is therefore critical that parents keep the lines of communication open when it comes to talking to their kids about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving.”

Each year as June approaches, another talented group of students prepares to move upward and onward.  We want to help avoid so much of that excitement and promise turning to tragedy.    A National survey done by SADD shows that 79% of HS junior/seniors believe their friends are likely to drink and drive during this graduation season.   This of grave concern.  Help us to make graduation memorable for all the right reasons!  Talk with friends, neighbors, parents and professionals about what to do to help our students make safe decisions.  Clearly communicate expectations and consequences to your teens.  Talk about different scenarios and what to do in an emergency. Reinforce how to make safe decisions.  Know where your teens are and whom they are with. Set limits and boundaries.  Know, understand and discuss the Township Ordinance with your students. This time impacts our teens futures, don’t you want to be involved?  Prevention is a powerful parenting tool.  Fill this season with the memories that you will want to remember for a lifetime!  Stay safe and enjoy each moment.

Gail H Barry, MMAC Coordinator

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