Teen Drinking Shocker

teens teen drinking party

Westchester County, outside New York City, an area known for its wealth, is getting another reputation-- as a troublespot for teen drinking, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston.

On New Year's Eve, at an upscale hotel, 26 teens aged 15 to 19 were arrested for alleged possession of alcohol and marijuana.

Patrick O'Neill Sr., the father of one of the teens, rented the rooms where the party took place. He told police his son promised there would be no alcohol, Pinkston says.

But David Hall, Harrison's police chief, says, "I don't think it's smart to rent hotel rooms for your son and his friends unsupervised."

Even more shocking, Pinkston says, is that O'Neill's older son Patrick Jr. was found dead in New York's East River in 1997-- after walking out of a bar following a night of heavy drinking.

The hotel incident is just the latest in a series of troubling episodes involving teen drinking in Westchester, Pinkston points out.

Last April, a Harrison High School teen died after an unsupervised beer party in a private home. Then in May, the junior prom in Rye was marred by teen drinking. In Scarsdale, school dances were banned after 200 teens arrived drunk at a homecoming dance in September. And in Port Chester, a parent was arrested in November after her son allegedly served liquor at a sweet 16 party.

The incidents prompted one local police department to set up a special hotline to receive tips of teen alcohol abuse.

But the head of Westchester's drug prevention program, Tom Meier, told Pinkston that what's needed is more parental involvement. "All of our children's behavior begins at home and their models are their parents. They take direction from their parents. Parents need to stay on top of their children," he said.

Still, Pinkston adds, peer pressure is also key: persuading teens to remind their friends that drinking is not only illegal in New York when you're under 21, it's also dangerous.