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Outback Center Issues Statement on Drunk Youths, Calls for Parent Meeting

On Monday, New Canaan Police Sgt. Carol Ogrinc detailed an incident that occurred on Friday night in which half-a-dozen teens were sent home or to the hospital after displaying outward signs of intoxication. By Monday evening, administration at the Outback Center issued a statement regarding the incident and called for a parent meeting Tuesday night. You can find the full contents of that letter below:

Tomorrow night, there will be a parent discussion regarding the underclassmen dance held at the Outback.

Underclassmen Dance - October 25, 2013
The Student Governing Board traditionally has sponsored underclassmen dances as part of their leadership and social program.

At the Outback we strive to be a location for fun, alcohol and drug-free social events.  Each participant is expected to adhere to our Code of Conduct at the Outback which they sign upon arrival and is published on our website along with our party protocols.

Last Friday night we had just over 200 9th and 10th graders at the Outback between 8 pm and 10 pm for music and dancing. With 9 staff members and adult chaperones and 2 policemen we strictly followed our policy of a 20 to 1 ratio for these large events.  

Prior to the dance the inside of the building was inspected thoroughly for contraband. All garbage containers, bookshelves, furniture, and the bathrooms were inspected for signs of alcohol and drugs. Coats, bags and purses were checked at the door.  All containers were disposed of at the door. We worked hard to ensure that our building was free of substances.

In addition, we followed our protocol where by both staff and police observed student behavior upon entering the building with a policeman stationed outdoors as well as one just inside the entrance. Additional staff monitored students within the building. 

All entrances and exits were monitored steadily throughout the evening. Any child suspected of intoxication was breathalyzed, parents were notified and depending on the level of intoxication the student was either sent home with an adult or to the hospital in the ambulance. 

The majority of the students attending behaved appropriately and had a good time on the dance floor. Sadly, after the party started a number of young people began to manifest signs of alcohol use and needed to be escorted home or to the hospital once breathalyzed.  

The support of both the police and the EMS was incredible and all adults involved worked diligently for the safety and health of everyone in attendance. With the numerous violations of our Code of Conduct at the party, the dance was ended one hour earlier than planned.

The Board of the Outback believes that the issues surfacing at this latest occasion must be addressed by not only the Outback, but by the community. To that end, we will be sponsoring two follow-up events:

Tuesday, October 29th:  Parents Meeting, 7:30 pm at the Outback
 
Friday, November 1st:  Community Service Providers Meeting, 1:00 pm at the Outback

We sincerely hope that interested and committed parties will attend.
Please contact the Outback for additional information.
  
Sincerely,
Catharine Sturgess, Interim Director
Outback
Local Parent October 28, 2013 at 11:03 PM
There is a problem here. This community resource helps teens feel and act like big boys and girls - to excess. It has a reputation and many parents are not comfortable allowing children there, especially for evening "hip" activities, supervision is clearly lacking. There seems to be a little disconnect between acceptable and respectable standards of behavior, and the supervision practices at these events. We are sending mixed signals to our youth. At a time when hormones are raging, we are clearly ignoring the fact that decision-making ability is hampered by AGE and social/emotional brain development! And the decision to facilitate a psuedo-nightclub/RAVE scenario which, according to attendees, allowed for some outlandish, bumping/grinding behavior in teens while setting the stage for drinking/arriving drunk is irresponsible and unacceptable.
centi October 29, 2013 at 07:01 AM
Well said Local Parent. How about arresting kids who drink underage since the drinking age is 21 and to send a message to the community that this behavior won't be tolerated. According to my sources, kids were also intox at the high school pep rally that all kids attend during school hours. There was dancing there too. Open arm compassion is not working. And for those parents allowing their kids to run wild to be popular, where are you? We can start a "lawyer up defense fund" for the local authorities arresting drunk 14 year olds to counter the legal pressure from parents who try to sue the town for arresting their dear children. Also local government should get involved not social workers. This is a legal issue with kids and their parents breaking the law in a blatant and repeated manner. Kids may experiment but the current trend requires swift action sending the message that this behavior will be fully prosecuted by law.
Greenhill October 29, 2013 at 10:37 AM
This is a failure of parental supervision and blaming the Outback for doing the right thing and supervising appropriately with law enforcement present lacks credibility.
Richard Cranium October 29, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Prohibition informed us on the law of unintended consequences. Outlawing alcohol in the 1920s encouraged more drinking than ever, only it went underground and enriched criminality. What we have today is the swapping of benign beer drinking to more easily-concealed vodka which leads to much higher intoxication. The next vessel to getting high is drugs. So while parents should keep a lid on these illicit teen drinking habits, we need to remember that Government policies as is so often the case make matters worse. The drinking age was 18 back in my teen days and I could handle a drink or two with my buds.
Local Parent November 01, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Let me put this out there. If 10 adults had a house party with 200 kids, and 7 drunk kids ended up going home with parents or to the hospital, who would be at fault? The parents who allowed kids to go there, or the adults who failed to anticipate the fact that teens, vastly outnumbering adults, might behave in this way? And we aren't even talking about the fact that kids were bumping/grinding in the dark at the Outback. What are the standards for personal behavior there? I mean really, there are many people who simply do not want our kids to go there because we recognize the reality of teen age behavior, and we prefer to raise our children safely through the teenage years rather than tell them to be good, and then set them up for unadulterated temptation.
J.James November 05, 2013 at 05:31 PM
I know everyone's up in arms about the teen drinking problem in town, and I know everyone is aware of the 'menace' of marijuana amongst New Canaan's youth, so I'd like to pose this question: Why isn't anybody talking about the growing heroin problem that has already claimed more than one young life and landed a slew of others in rehab? Where's that article?
centi November 05, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Very good point. We need an exposé article on the drug trade that's alive and well in nc that's killing our promising youth.
J.James November 12, 2013 at 12:08 PM
When I was in high school, which really wasn't that long ago, I wouldn't know where to get heroin even if I wanted to. Alcohol, easy. Pot even easier. But heroin wasn't even on the radar. Everyone is always on the hunt for drunks and stoners because these are problems that just about every community faces with their high school age citizens. Now, however, a scant 6 years since I graduated, heroin is all over the place and literally NO ONE is talking about it. I would need more than two hands to count, by name, the young people I know personally who are involved with one of the most dangerous drugs available. Why isn't anyone asking questions? How long will New Canaan keep this a dirty little secret just to save face? How many more parents will check their children into rehab or receive phone calls from the emergency room before we decide hiding behind our suffocating facade of quaint, small town life isn't going to make the problem go away?
centi November 12, 2013 at 02:13 PM
From what I've read ppl who talk about it are shunned because the mention of heroin is thought to decrease property values. If you google heroin you can see how much has been found in ct during some fairly recent drug busts. I wonder what local law enforcements position is on this publically?

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