Fixing the problem: The Outback and the community react
Published 6:50 pm, Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Outback started its task force investigation into the incident where one teen was arrested and two others were sent to Norwalk Hospital for intoxication during a March 7 dance.
"The Outback Board is committed to addressing this incident with speed and diligence. We have placed all high school teen dances and band nights on hold until the task force presents their recommendations and feedback to the Board of Directors," Connie Piotroski, Outback co-president, told the New Canaan News. "In the meantime, our middle school programs continue without interruption."
The March 7 event was shut down after police on the scene noticed some students were intoxicated. Carla J. Paredes, 18, of East Avenue, was charged with second-degree breach of peace and interfering with an officer at 9:06 p.m. Police said Paredes stumbled into officers, became belligerent and began shouting obscenities.
Police said more than 200 teens attended the event, and "numerous" youths were intoxicated.
Paredes was released on a promise to appear in court on March 18. Her case has since been continued to April 1.
Community leaders including Robert Curry, head of the Active Parenting programs in New Canaan, said this only strengthens his resolve to help parents and kids deal with these matters.
"It simply points out that the issue is very much alive and well in New Canaan," he said. "Also it points out that `we' the community at large represented by the New Canaan police take this matter very seriously. What I see is kids who are on a collision course with a very unpleasant, non-productive, downward spiraling life that relies on substances to cope. Hopefully this incident is a wake-up call for these kids."
Curry hopes the Active Parenting Program will continue to provide parents the tools and education they need to prevent such issues between teens and their families.
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"Our goal is to enable parents and their children to live a happy, healthy and productive life free of addictions and dysfunctional behaviors of all types," Curry added.
Sangeeta Appel, an Active Parenting Program leader, echoed Curry's statements.
"The Outback incident certainly demonstrates the need for the community to come together and have a united stance on how to deal with alcohol usage amongst teenagers," Appel said. "In response to the incident, I have joined the task force created by the Outback to review their policies regarding using breathalyzers and /or other methods to ensure a safe, alcohol-free place for teenagers to socialize."
Appel said she has also invited members from previous Active Parenting classes to join the task force.
"Through group discussions and video presentations we provide parents the tools necessary to effectively influence their teens to avoid alcohol in their teenage years," Appel said about the program.
Along those same lines, Piotroski said a prevention speaker, Barbara Greenberg, PhD, will discuss how parents can start a dialogue about alcohol an drugs with their teens on March 31 at 9:30 a.m. and April 7 at 7 p.m. at the Outback. Greenburg is the author of "Teenage as a Second Language." The event is sponsored by The Outback Teen Center and New Canaan Cares.
"We expect the task force will complete their role within two to three weeks," Piotroski said. "I am confident something good will come out of this unfortunate incident."