Mon, Sep 15, 2014 ●
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Forecaster Forum: 'We were very naive and ill-equipped to handle the situation'

Opinion

Forecaster Forum: 'We were very naive and ill-equipped to handle the situation'

We are grateful for this opportunity to address our community about the dangers of teenage drinking and the legal ramifications for adults when teenagers drink in the home.

We are in complete alignment with the Cumberland County district attorney's office regarding the hazards of underage drinking, and we are not just saying that because we have been mandated to write this public letter. Like many of you, we have strived to raise our children with the utmost care, support, thoughtfulness and guidance. Likewise, the safety and well-being of our community’s children is something we hold very near and dear to our hearts.

We moved to Maine several years ago seeking a wholesome quality of life for our family. We looked forward to building community connections, and fashioned our home in such a way as to support community-building by way of social gatherings and celebrations.

We saw the night of June 16, 2012 – the night the Falmouth High School baseball and lacrosse teams each won state championships – as another opportunity to embrace our community and celebrate teenagers’ accomplishments. Our intentions were to host a safe and legal celebration, but we underestimated the vulnerability of our property with regard to unobserved entry.

Despite our best efforts, our inability to control access to our property played a major role in the outcome, which was the exact opposite of what we were celebrating: teenagers engaging in healthy, wholesome activity.

We admit we were very naive and ill-equipped to handle the situation. The safeguards we had in place to prevent teenage drinking were simply not enough. As adults, we are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of our community’s teenagers, who don’t always think realistically about their own well-being.

In hindsight, it's clear that we let our excitement about the baseball championship overshadow the needs for common-sense planning and parental involvement. We encourage schools, sports teams and concerned parents to plan post-championship events well in advance and ensure that these events are amply chaperoned and monitored to ensure the safety and well-being of the children.

Although this past year has been a very trying time for our family, we feel very fortunate to live in a community where the care and safety of our teenagers is such a high priority for parents, law enforcement, and the district attorney’s office. We look forward to continued partnering with our community to help curb underage consumption of alcohol.

If our story saves even one life, it will have been worth it.

Falmouth residents Barry and Paula Spencer agreed to make this statement as part of a court settlement that resolved charges they allowed an underage drinking party at their home last year.