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Mamaroneck Teens: 'Be a Parent, Not a Friend'

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- When it comes to underage drinking, a group of seven Mamaroneck High School students deliver a simple message to parents in a PSA to air on local television and movie theatres: "Be a parent, not a friend.”

That is the title of a campaign put together by Larchmont-Mamaroneck RADAR, a coalition of local entities committed to reducing the use of alcohol, drugs and other harmful substances by youth in the community, according to a statement. Among those involved are three police departments, healthcare professionals, local businesses, the Mamaroneck School District, PTAs and student groups.

One of those student groups is a Mamaroneck High School club called Above the Influence, which the seven students - Sarah Harris, Andrew Lee, Cristina Trapani, Kelsey Davidson, Sean Howard, Dominique Jeanty and Zoe Malzone, belong to.

“The more people we reach, the more people we empower to make a difference," said Janet Buchbinder, president of the RADAR coalition, in a statement. "We want to get the community talking.”

To that end, the 36 second PSA, written by the same seven students, will air in local movie theaters in May and June, as well as on LMC-TV. Additionally, there will be mailers and billboards at the train station.

"We parents tend to think that peers are the primary influence on the choices our teens make,” Buchbinder said. "But all the research shows that parents are the most influential factor in a teenager’s life."

The "Be a Parent, Not a Friend" campaign is a response to recent student surveys and parent feedback at RADAR events, as well as input from social workers, educators and medical experts.

“Teens tell us again and again that they trust their parents more than anyone, and that they are counting on their parents to guide them right," said Helene Fremder, a MHS social worker and prevention specialist.

According to the CDC, if a child starts drinking before age 15, they are five times more likely to abuse alcohol later in life than those who start drinking at or after age 21.

“Protecting teens from alcohol is very important for their long-term health, safety and potential," said Dr. Ann Engelland, school district physician and RADAR advisor.

On April 17, the campaign will get underway with a lecture at the Hommocks Auditorium by Mike Nerney, a consultant in substance abuse prevention and education.

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