Safe Homes

To provide a Safe Home and to always call the Host Parent.

What is "Safe Homes"?

Safe Homes is a national program developed to encourage communication and positive peer pressure among parents to stop teenage alcohol and other drug use, and to protect young children from being exposed to unsafe conditions when they socialize with their peers.

Safe Home Parent Network

Why Do We Need This Program?

Alcohol and other drug use by our teens is a significant problem in Livingston. All Livingston parents are asked to participate in this program. Parents should educate themselves with updated alcohol and other drug information as well as other types of risks that could have a negative impact on children as they grow from kindergarten through their college years. The earlier parents discuss these facts with their children, the more likely a problem will not develop.

Safe Homes parents are concerned about the prevalence of alcohol and other drug use among our youth and the social acceptance of this use. As parents, we accept the responsibility for the health and welfare of our children and believe that it is time for all parents to become involved in the problems of underage drinking and drug use. Our inaction is often perceived by our kids as condoning their illegal activities. Because of our changing society, Safe Homes has been expanded to include parents of elementary aged children (Kindergarten through 5th Grade) in order to establish a pattern of parent networking as early as possible to make sure our young children’s playtime is safe. (See section under “For Elementary Parents.”) Our children need to know that we are aware and care enough to ensure a safe and healthy social environment for them.

Encourage the parents of your children’s friends to join too. This will make your job much easier!

Did You Know?

  • Many times parties are spur of the moment occurrences. Parents are not home. Young people get drunk and stoned, houses get damaged and violence and even death can occur. All of these have happened in Livingston.
  • Some Livingston parents allow the illegal use of alcohol by minors (under 21) in their homes. (See “What is the Law.”)
  • There have been numerous teenage alcohol and other drug overdoses requiring hospitalization in Livingston.
  • Alcohol and drug use are a leading cause of teenage sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, vandalism, robberies, injury, illness and death.
  • One third of our nation’s youth are problem drinkers. Many Livingston high school students “binge” drink. Young bodies (through age 21) can become chemically dependent 10 times faster than mature bodies.
  • Eight percent of Livingston 4th graders report use of inhalants (sniffing intoxicating fumes). (Latest Student drug and Alcohol Survey results.)
  • The average age when many children start experimenting with alcohol and other drugs is twelve.
  • High school and college kids are in the only age group whose death rate is going up, not down. Use of intoxicants which cause accidents, overdoses and suicides is the primary factor involved in this unexpected statistic.

Safe Homes Benefits

  • Safe Homes parents feel comfortable calling each other to verify that pre-teen and teen parties and gatherings will be held at a Safe Home with responsible parental supervision.
  • When adults join together and take a united stand, they become more effective than when acting alone.
  • Our children will get the message that the parents are “in charge” and are taking the initiative to prevent teenage alcohol and drug use, and other unsafe conditions for young children.
  • Our children will have a safe and healthy social environment in which to grow up.
  • Safe Homes parents will receive a directory of parents supporting this concept. Remember, host parents expect and welcome calls from other parents to verify activities.

The greatest deterrent against teenage alcohol and other drug use is parents not tolerating it! The success of Safe Homes is up to you. Pick up the phone and make that call to keep your child safe!

Safe Homes Parents Agree

We will...

  • not allow the use of alcohol and other drugs in our home or on our property
  • call host parents before allowing our child to attend an activity.
  • support school policies and law enforcement regarding the use of alcohol, drugs and other illegal actions.
  • develop and communicate a clear no use position for our children about alcohol and other illegal drugs.
  • be a positive role model for our children. We will try not to confuse them with double standards and mixed messages.
  • remember that appropriate and consistent discipline indicates love and concern and helps children develop a sense of self-esteem and responsibility.
  • never leave a minor in charge of the house when planning to be away overnight as peer pressure to have a party can be very hard to resist. We will make arrangements for our teen to stay at a “safe” home. To further discourage unauthorized parties, ask your neighbors and police to watch your empty house.

The word “trust” can cause a lot of confusion or parents when it comes to safeguarding their children. Become a Safe Homes parent does not imply distrust of your child. Rather, it simply means that you are aware of the tremendous social pressures on today’s youth and that you care enough to prevent the circumstances in which problems can arise.

For All Safe Homes Parents:  Family Guidelines

  • Inform your children that you have joined SAFE HOMES and discuss it with them.
  • Know where your children are and let them know where you are.
  • Be awake (or awakened) when your children come home at night.
  • Assure your children that you will pick them up whenever needed.
  • Get to know your children’s friends and their parents.
  • Be aware that many parties, sleepovers, and other activities are being held without proper adult supervision, and alcohol and other drugs are frequently present.
  • Be aware that impromptu get-togethers often signal lack of parental supervision.
  • Be aware of get-togethers where only older siblings or housekeepers will be in charge. There is no substitution for parental supervision.
  • Secure your liquor and prescription drugs so that curious children are not tempted to experiment with them.
  • Inform your children that other parents are depending on you to uphold the pledge.

For Elementary Parents:  Parent Guidelines

  • Know who will be providing adult supervision when a child is visiting a friend’s home.
  • Contact host parent/guardian to verify supervision, transportation, time period and activities prior to giving permission.
  • Get to know host parents/guardians of your child’s friends so you can be assured they share your commitment to a “safe” home.
  • Communicate with your child what you consider to be unsafe activities and prepare your child to handle them.
  • Be sure to leave a phone number where you can be reached with your child and host adult.
  • Be aware that sometimes older siblings can have a negative influence on young children and therefore should not automatically be accepted as the provider of supervision.
  • Encourage your child to share with you their experiences and activities of the day after returning from a friend’s home.

Safety Tips

The following items should be secured and made inaccessible to children in your home:

  • Chemicals: Prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, toxic cleaning materials, etc.
  • Inhalants (intoxicating fumes): Pressurized spray cans (carbon fluorides), airplane glue, magic marker, whiteout, paint thinners, gasoline, nail polish, etc. These common household items are sometimes misused by curious children and can cause damaging side effects. Close supervision is warranted when in use by children.
  • Firearms and other potential weapons: Guns, ammunition, knives, etc.
  • Flammables: Matches, lighters, etc.
  • Adult material: videos, magazines, photos, books, some cable TV programs (i.e., MTV, adult movies, monitor use of computer, etc).

What is the Law in New Jersey?

  • The legal drinking age is 21 years old.
  • Adults who supply or allow alcoholic beverages to be served to anyone under 21 (except blood relatives) may be subject to arrest and prosecution (6 months in jail and/or $1,000 fine).
  • Parents can be sued for injury or destruction to/by a minor they have allowed to consume alcohol.
  • Driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense. Most people (especially young people think they are okay to drive when they are not!
  • Use of illegal drugs is against the law at any age.
  • It is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine and imprisonment, for an adult to leave a loaded firearm within easy access of a minor.

Reasonable Hours

Children should stay home on school nights except for school activities, community events, or adult sanctioned extracurricular activities. Set a weekend curfew for your children and enforce it. Curfew suggestions include:

  • 7th and 8th Grades - 10 p.m.
  • 9th Grade - 11 to 11:30 p.m.
  • 10th Grade - 11:30 p.m. to midnight
  • 11th Grade - midnight to 12:30 a.m.
  • 12th Grade - 12:30 to 1:00 a.m.

(Except for special events such as proms or graduation)

Fun Does Not Have to Mean Drugs or Alcohol!

Help Your Child Say No!

  • “No thanks, I’ll lose my privileges.”
  • “No thanks, I don’t want to get in trouble with my parents (coach, friends, grandparents, etc)”
  • “No thanks, I don’t like the taste.”
  • “No thanks, I don’t drink.”
  • “No thanks, it’s not my thing.”
  • “No thanks, I’ve got to pick up a friend later (study, get up early, etc)”
  • “No thanks, I’m in training.”
  • “No thanks, it makes me feel sick.”
  • “NO THANKS.”

Signs of a Problem

  • Change in mood or attitude. Extreme disrespect.
  • Withdrawal from family activities.
  • Decline in attendance or performance in school or work.
  • Increasingly breaking rules and curfews.
  • Increased need for money, borrowing or stealing from family or employer.
  • Heightened secrecy.
  • Change in sleeping/eating habits.
  • New group of friends who have lots of freedom.
  • Increase in phone calls at odd hours.

As a Parent of a Minor Invited to an Activity

Call the parent in charge to...

  • verify the occasion and location.
  • check on adult supervision.
  • be sure that there will be no alcohol or other drugs allowed.

If the activity seems inappropriate, express your concern, keep your child home and seek alternate activities.

As a Host Parent

  • Expect calls from other parents.
  • Call the parents of anyone possessing alcohol or other drugs, or appearing to be under the influence. Do not allow anyone under the influence to go home alone or drive.
  • Be visible (e.g., checking foods, etc).
  • Tell guests who choose to leave that they may not return.
  • Activities should be by invitation only. Do not allow party crashers to stay. Use a guest list.
  • Call the police if the party seems to be getting out of control.

To sign up for Safe Homes call Pat Fernandez 973-992-1336.