New Canaan Cares surveys students on teen partying
Video games, movies, dining out and homework are on the weekend agendas of many teens in New Canaan. Often, so is drinking.
New Canaan Cares Executive Director Meg Domino discussed this reality with about 50 New Canaan moms at New Canaan High School last week where she read teen partying survey responses from 113 anonymous NCHS students.
"There have been many, many weekends I stay home," said Domino, reading from a student response. "My parents think it's because I'm having a hard time with friends. My parents think it's because there's something wrong with me. I'm just conflicted."
The survey responses point to a trend: The social agendas of most New Canaan teens are driven by a desire to be with their friends, no matter the activity. Unfortunately, Domino concluded, one of myriad activities many of them engage in on weekends is undoubtedly centered around drinking.
One teen described the situation like this: "It would be easier if drinking wasn't a problem, but it would be nice if we had places to go and hang out that were really interesting and that upper-classmen wanted to go to, like a mini-golf course."
Another student wrote this: "I would like parents to know how hard it is not to be involved in the teen party scene, meaning that everyone looks at you like you're boring and immature."
Derived from a poll Domino conducted individually with students in grades nine through 12 during January and February, these student responses paint one of the most current, hyper-local pictures of the teen social climate in New Canaan.
"One of the things that was ... across the board was how many kids felt that if they don't drink [and] if they don't party, which they don't, then they have nothing to do and parents begin to think they are sort of like outcasts," Domino said.
She added, "Our kids are clearly not reaching their academic potential if they are drinking every weekend, and there are a lot of kids here who are drinking every weekend. It kind of doesn't jive with the college town that we certainly are known as being. But what really concerns me is the side of it that kids report again and again: `I get the A's my mom and my dad want; nobody's going to tell me that I can't drink on the weekends. I work hard for that.' ... It's a sense of -- I don't want to say entitlement ... but it's a sense of what you almost expect to hear in that adult who's like, `Golly, I just got that big [assignment] in and now I'm going to relax.' And it is a reflection of adults ... that they've worked hard and this is their way of de-stressing. We've got to reverse that."