Underage drinking — Barrington residents need to be ‘re-reminded’ of tragedies

Barrington Town Hall, Barrington, Rhode Island

Barrington Town Hall, Barrington, Rhode Island

Kathy Sullivan couldn’t help but feel frustrated when she heard reports of the recent underage drinking party allegedly hosted by a Barrington dad.

The prevention director for the town’s substance abuse task force (BAY Team) said her department has worked hard to educate local young people and their parents about the dangers of underage drinking and other substance abuse issues. She said she was upset by the incident — read Barrington resident charged with hosting underage drinking party — that took place on Tuesday night, July 30 at a Bullock Avenue home.

“That’s why this social host incident really bothers me,” she said. “It’s hard to understand how this can happen, especially in this community where we’ve had a lot of attention to this issue.

“I’m frustrated and I guess this is an alarm that we need to do more to educate people.”

When Ms. Sullivan first arrived in town about 10 years ago, she experienced a fair amount of push-back. She said people would say that her efforts would not change the culture in town, that Barrington was set in its ways and that underage drinking was just part of growing up.

The BAY Team official began a campaign to bring a greater level of substance abuse education into the schools. She also reached out to parents.

“The hard piece is with the parents,” she said, adding “but they’re also the greatest asset. … It just takes time to break through an expected norm.”

Despite her work, Barrington still suffered through some painful underage drinking related tragedies, including two teenage fatalities in 2007. In July 2007, local teenager Patrick Murphy was killed in a boating incident on the Barrington where the driver of the vessel, Ryan Greenberg, is believed to have been drinking alcohol. And in Nov. 2007, 16-year-old Jon Converse died when the car he was a passenger in slammed into a tree on New Meadow Road. Police said the driver had been drinking alcohol prior to the crash.

“I guess we need to re-remind people,” she said, referring to the deadly consequences of substance abuse.

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2 Comments

  1. Joe Sturm said:

    Kathy, you are dead on in feeling the way you do, no pun intended. I knew most of the boys that were killed in recent years having coached them. I cannot believe that an educated man, a doctor, no less, would host a party for teens involving alcohol. Perhaps he hasn’t lived in the town very long but if he has, Jon Converse died less than a mile from his “party” house. And the Murphy boy right on Barrington River. Wake up! I am on your side Kathy as well as the men I coach with at BHS. We instill morals and ethics with our boys and do not tolerate any variances from the code of conduct that we have established. Joe Sturm

  2. Butch Lombardi said:

    The problem will not go away until parents become parents and not try to be their kid’s best buddy. Kids have, for ages, and will continue to try and get away with anything, including drinking. Until parents step up to the plate and enforce their rules (assuming they have any rules) this problem will not go away. This is not about information it’s about responsibility. Until parents start taking some responsibility for their kids actions and not enable them to break the law no amount of information is going to help.

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