In 1998 Ryan Whitney died in Lyons Quarry following a drinking event with friends. Since that date, Dr. John Knight, founder and Director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children’s Hospital Boston, has dedicated himself to educating parents and teens to the hazards of underage drinking. He cites statistics of up to 25% of parents supply alcohol to the teens.
Many feel they are doing the “right thing”, taking their keys away and keeping them in their home. We know this does not work and have many real life examples of how it has failed and led to tragic circumstances of death. Dr. Knight has presented educational programs to parent groups at schools but feels poor attendance and “singing to the choir” is not getting the message to all parents and teens. He has now developed a website: www.teensafe.org.
The website includes the content of his speeches, “Fifteen Minutes to Save Your Teen’s Life”. Topics covered include the neuroscience of teen drinking and how parents should address potential alcohol problems with their teen. There is a Q & A and also a 10 question quiz for parents. Milton School officials are using the website and quiz as part of the final “checkout” process for their teen at the all night graduation party. Dr. Knight’s clearly states to parents: Never provide alcohol or condone drinking by your teen, give a clear “No Use” message and provide safe and sober alternatives.
Dr. and Mrs. Karen Whitney are funding the project in memory of their deceased son, Ryan. They feel the website is the perfect project to fund and that it is being piloted in their former home town. Karen Whitney says, “maybe he can make a difference for kids who drink”. The goal is “to bring the mountain to Mohammed” and to reach parents and teens with the message that their brains are not fully developed, that they respond differently to alcohol and that they are at much greater risk.