Poll: Is Underage Drinking a Problem in Chatham?

Police: Teenage alcohol use has been on decline, pep rally appears to be rare incident.

Police, municipal officials and school administrators expressed surprise at after arriving at a pep rally intoxicated Friday night.

Lt. Steven Hennelly said he has found recently that "alcohol use among minors in Chatham seems to be on a great decline." Reports of underage drinking have fallen in the last several months, and the summer, in particular, had fewer incidents of intoxicated minors than past years, Hennelly said.

The last case of underage alcohol consumption Hennelly could recall took place in May when Mia Flannery of Chatham Township, then 18, caused a car accident at Fairmount Avenue and Southern Boulevard while allegedly under the influence of alcohol.

Borough Mayor Nelson Vaughan said the Municipal Alliance Committee with Chatham Township met on Sept. 14 with representatives from the two towns' police departments. He said they had "no incidents of teens getting drunk over the summer," Vaughan said. "Apparently, it was a very quiet summer."

According to The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, 305 New Jersey municipalities, more than 50 percent of the state's communities, have an ordinance that prohibits minors from consuming alcohol on private property. Chatham Borough and Chatham Township are not among those municipalities.

"I think we should have an ordinance like that in Chatham, I really do," Vaughan said Tuesday.

Tom Belding, the president of the Board of Education, read a prepared statement Monday during the board's discussion of the issue at the open public meeting.

Belding's statement included the following questions for the board and the school district to consider:

He said:

"Was Friday night a coincidence, or was the Pep Rally in some way a catalyst for this behavior? Is it a sign of an underlying issue we can influence?

Are our policies and procedures sufficient to discourage this behavior, and to moderate risks—particularly to individuals? Should we put more emphasis on substance abuse education, discipline and communicating with parents?

Do we need to permanently reconsider holding these types of events, or the punitive measures that apply if students violate our code of conduct?"

Belding also said teenagers "are surrounded by images that unduly popularize alcohol consumption" and "we—the parents, the school and the community—must instill strong values, self-esteem and high expectations in these young people. It's clear we can be doing a better job."


Editor's note: A previous version of this article quoted Mayor Nelson Vaughan as saying that he heard from Project Community Pride that there were no incidents with Chatham teens drinking during the summer of 2011. The information came from the Municipal Alliance and not Project Community Pride. The article has been corrected and Chatham Patch apologizes for the error.

Get Real September 22, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Alumni, you are right on about the drinking age being too high! The whole thing has completely backfired! Things truly are worse now. The "hard stuff" is easier to hide and more efficient than a keg of beer. We really must appreciate the difference between the teens in Europe and the teens here. This is an American problem and we brought it on by being too idealistic and puritanical.
Terry H September 22, 2011 at 03:45 AM
I didn't drink in high school. I didn't see the point. It is possible to have fun without drinking alcohol. It is possible to talk to people and dance and act silly, without an artificial high. Some of my friends did drink... some just a little, some to such and excess that it endangered their lives. I saw those kids lose control and think they were having more fun because they were drunk. It seemed to me they were unable to cope with social situations without alcohol dulling their pain. As an adult, I drink some wine or beer with dinner now, and my daughters know that drinking alcohol is something that grown ups do, because they are mature enough to handle it. Children are not mature enough to handle drinking at parties with their peers, (especially if they see their parents regarding alcohol as a necessary part of having fun). I hope as they grow older my daughters will be smart enough to see that children and adults who feel they must drink at parties in order to have fun are using alcohol as a crutch. Therapy is more effective and less dangerous.
Ed September 22, 2011 at 09:41 AM
4 were caught, how many were drinking ?
whatsthepoint September 23, 2011 at 02:19 PM
ATTENTION PARENTS----It is genarally useless to debate the underage drinking problem with underage drinkers. They use the same old tired excuses that we have all heard before---"everyone in highschool drinks", "the drinking age should be 18", "i can go to war but cant drink". "parents drink", "if i drink in high school i will be a more responsible drinker in college"......on and on. These are children who have very limited experience with the true problems with underage drinking. Their rational and arguments in favor of underage drinking are juvenile. Parents need to talk with their children as they feel appropriate about this and other issues that impact their childrens lives. It should also be noted that the very large majority of kids and parents in Chatham are nice, well mannered and respectable.
XVII September 27, 2011 at 01:27 AM
Ok wow, I was thinking about leaving this thread alone. However, all of you hive-minded aggrivators need a lesson clearly, since your inept cerebrums cannot grasp the obvious crux, the vertex of the problem. You are all so rooted in your weak idealogies that you fail to see what"s truly going on here. Underage drinking is widespread. There is nothing you can do to stop it. So right now, you should probably shut up (please). <--Lauren, I said please. I know you won't though, so i'll carry on. You incessant babblers do nothing to alleviate the problem. Why do you feel the need to go on chatham patch ranting about underage drinking? Were you deprived as a child, you really need the attention that bad? ( I'm not talking to you Hugh). Actually I am. Hugh, I disagree with your arguments and your philosophy in general. I'm going to make a general assumption that you are as weak physically as you are mentally, and this has caused you to develop some sort of small-man syndrome which causes you to be belligerent via web (step up the build). Underage drinking will not stop. You can't stop it. It's too much fun. I agree that is it pretty retarded to show up to a school event blasted. However, most teens don't do this. Infact, most teens are probably more intelligent than the adults who post stupid (profanity) on chatham patch. I know I am. Get off your high horses and stop acting like you know something we dont. It's tiring. --The Kid with the Green Backpack


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »