Hamilton teen's death spurs city to curb underage drinking

New, locally developed parent resources to combat underage drinking will be unveiled at the Michelangelo Events and Conference Centre Wednesday night.

Hamilton public health is trying to evoke change after a local teen drank himself to death in 2010.

New, locally developed parent resources to combat underage drinking will be unveiled at the Michelangelo Events and Conference Centre Wednesday night.

The resources were developed in direct response to coroner’s inquest recommendations from the 2010 alcohol poisoning death of Hamilton teen Christopher Skinner.

Skinner, a popular student at Waterdown District High School, died in June 2010 while partying at a friend's house, with his friend's parents in attendance. 

“With this tragedy, the community and these organizations are trying to have a positive impact and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Sue French, a public health nurse on the city’s injury prevention team.

French says various stakeholder groups are aiming to “increase public awareness and engage the community,” when it comes to underage drinking.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 54.9 per cent of Ontario students from grade seven to 12 reported drinking alcohol in the last 12 months. “And we know that alcohol use goes up from grade 7 on,” French said.

Public health has compiled a list of strategies parents can use to help talk to their kids about underage drinking. They’ll be passed out in a new video and pamphlet Wednesday night.

“Communication and monitoring is key,” French said, adding that parents are legally responsible for what goes on inside their homes.

About 200 people including parents and stakeholders from different groups have signed up for Wednesday’s event, French says.

Speakers will include Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Police Chief Glenn De Caire and representatives from the local school board.

Garfield Gini-Newman, senior lecturer at the University of Toronto, will also be on hand to talk about the effects of alcohol on the developing teenage brain.

The launch takes place at the Michelangelo Events and Conference Centre at 1555 Upper Ottawa St. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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