Milton Coalition’s Underage Drinking Working Group seeks additional members
We want youth in Milton to have time and space to have fun and to socialize and connect with their peers, but it doesn’t have to include alcohol and drugs. It cannot take place in Cunningham Park at night. If you care about this issue, please join us. Anyone is welcome.
The Milton Coalition is looking for resident volunteers to work on a long-term strategy to change the culture around “the woods,” with attention to youth drinking, drug use, violence (physical, sexual, verbal and emotional), and parent/community responses.
It is time to change the culture around youth alcohol use in Milton. We do not have to accept that just because “teens have been drinking in the Woods forever,” it must continue. The Milton Coalition is focused on primary prevention of substance use – stopping it before it starts. Activity in the Cunningham Park “Woods” (also known as the “Crater” or the “Pit”) goes in cycles.
With the use of social media, the viral sharing of video from the Woods, ride share apps, the passive or active approval by caregivers, as well as not understanding the dangers posed, Cunningham Park is occasionally seeing hundreds of young people gathering in Woods. Some are bringing and sharing alcohol and other drugs. At times, the resulting scene is chaotic and extremely violent. This is not a group of teens drinking around a fire pit. There have been weapons, burns, broken bones, assaults between peers, including sexual assaults, assaults on first responders and vandalism of Park property.
The Woods is also a place where bullying and coercion takes place. Youth are inebriated, sometimes pass out, and are subjected to humiliation by their peers which is then posted on social media. Much of what happens there does not get reported to the police. We get this information from school administrators, families, and youth.
At the same time, Milton youth get something out of going to the woods. Many feel it is “their place.” Many get that sense of acceptance and belonging that can be hard for youth to find. No one is in charge and no one needs an invitation. Risk taking is a natural part of youth development. Youth need places where they can go and exert their
independence. But it does not have to include alcohol and drugs. And it can no longer take place in Cunningham Park at night.
Underage drinking is a very complex problem with no easy solutions. We are confident that together we can make a difference. The Milton Coalition is bringing together a group of residents to work on both short-term and long-term prevention of underage alcohol use. Our focus will be the Cunningham Park woods, as well as other areas of public and social drinking.
If your family has been impacted by alcohol use or if you are just interested in working on changing the culture around drinking in Milton, please consider joining us. We will start with monthly in-person and/or virtual meetings. Final meeting plan and leadership will be decided on by the group. Occasional volunteer opportunities that will move the goals of the group forward will also be available. Everyone welcome.