Rockville Centre Mayor Fran Murray recently met with local school officials and RVC sports organization leaders to discuss solutions on how to combat the growing trend of teen substance abuse and subsequent violent behavior in the village, he said at the Sept. 4 village board meeting.
Murray said he met with RVC school district administrators, as well as St. Agnes, Chaminade, Kellenberg, Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart officials on how they plan to address the "anti-social behavior of teens and risky business that follows."
Murray's meeting with school officials was spurred by a where a resident was allegedly attacked by three local teens and put into the hospital. The incident sparked outrage from the community, who came out in droves to a July 16 board meeting to question how the board will deal with the growing problem of drunk, rowdy teens roaming the village.
The mayor said that the schools and village have joined in a cooperative effort to fight this problem together. "We share the common goal to stop violence and substance abuse in our community," Murray said.
He noted that even though the village and schools are unified in its efforts to end teen substance abuse and destructive behavior, there's still one more component needed for it to be successful.
"Nothing can replace engaged parents," Murray said. He urged residents and families to get more involved in the village's volunteer organizations, like the RVC Youth Council, RVC Youth Task Force and the Auxiliary Police Department. Murray added that future meetings with school leaders have already been scheduled.
Mindy Roman, a prosecutor in village court, also spoke about how the village court handles teens who are ticketed for violating village code ordinances. She explained that misdemeanors and felonies are not heard in village court, but village judges are "extremely vigilant" when it comes to handing out penalties for open containers of alcohol, being in the park after dark and disturbing the peace.
"No one leaves here with a minor slap on the wrist," she said. Roman assured villagers that these teens are "dealt with fairly and very seriously."
Assistant Superintendent Noreen Leahy and Athletics Director Carol Roseto of the RVC School District, spoke about an upcoming substance abuse and fitness walk at on Oct. 20 sponsored by the district's Drug, Alcohol and Violence Prevention Task Force.
Roseto added that athletes who violate the oath to not drink or abuse drugs, can and will be penalized by their coaches. If the violation happens out of the sports season, she noted, coaches have little legal standing to punish the athlete.
Rockville Centre Police Commissioner Charles Gennario finished the presentation by detailing the Sept. 10 meeting at Village Hall. On the topic of teen substance abuse, Gennario added that parents have to set a good example for their kids.
He recalled a story where a teen was caught with beer in his backpack, and in court, the parents explained that their child should get off without penalty because it was an illegal search by police. "What does that tell your kids?" he asked.
Gennario added that without the support of the parents to form the community triad — schools, government and parents — to help combat teen substance abuse, "it all fails."