Safe House Initiative gives Burrillville parents a sign against underage drinking


BURRILLVILLE – It’s a signal between parents that indicates a home is a safe place to let a child stay, where alcohol will never be shared with minors.

And Burrillville parents are being urged to join the movement, and take the Safe House Initiative pledge.

“The Safe House Initiative is an underage drinking parent-to-parent campaign,” explained Pamela Shayer, coordinator of the Cumberland, Lincoln and North Smithfield Prevention Coalitions.

The initiative, launched earlier this year with the help of a Drug Free Communities grant, aims to curb the use of alcohol and other substances among minors, a trend prevention advocates say is on the rise – with more young people home for longer periods of unsupervised time amid the pandemic.

The statistics, advocates note, show a need for action. In a recent survey, one out of three teens say they could easily get alcohol from their parents and two out of five say they could get alcohol from a friend’s parents.

And one out of four teens say they have been to a party where adults allowed underage drinking.

Shayer is bringing the prevention campaign to communities across Rhode Island, asking parents to agree that they will not provide alcohol to teens, and will not willingly allow teens to drink alcohol at their homes.

Parents who take the pledge are sent a Safe House decal that can be placed in the window of a house, and gain access to resources such as information on the laws surrounding underage drinking, and guidance on how to talk to kids about the topic.

“The purpose of this is, if parents are dropping their kids off, they can know that they won’t be served alcohol,” Shayer said this month at a virtual meeting with members of the Burrillville Prevention Action Coalition.

“We’re relying on our partners in the prevention field,” Shayer said. “We’re hoping that it takes off. This needs to be a statewide campaign.”

BPAC coordinator Monica Blanchette said in Burrillville, officials will spread the word about the program through schools in hopes to reach more parents.

“We are going to try to get the word out there,” Blanchette said. “It’s a way to connect the community and let other parents know who the safe parents are in the community. It’s a way to make sure our kids don’t use alcohol before they’re legally allowed to.”

Signing on takes only a few minutes and only allows others to see the name of the participant, and the town where the “Safe House,” is located.

“It’s easy to do,” said Blanchette. “It’s all online and you don’t have to leave your house.”

To take the Safe House Initiative pledge, visit

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