Last week Governor Corzine signed a law that grants legal immunity to persons under the age of 21 who have been consuming alcohol and call 911 for medical assistance. The bill previously passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously. This is a major step forward in getting realistic about youth drinking and the safety of our youth.
Please let your high school and college age kids know about this law.
Studies have consistently shown that young people are afraid to contact authorities in a medical emergency if alcohol has been present and the people involved are not 21. On college campuses, especially, thousands of serious, alcohol-related medical emergencies are unreported as young people try to deal with the problem without help from authorities. Students will leave their friends to "sleep it off", which can lead to the drunken teen slipping into a coma in their sleep or asphyxiating on their vomit. There are approximately 1,700 alcohol-related deaths per year among college students -- almost all of them completely preventable.
Many colleges have medical amnesty policies (also called good Samaritan or non-retaliation agreements) including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, Tulane, UPenn, William & Mary, Fordham, Duke, UVA, Smith and Hampshire College. These policies have one goal: ensuring that no matter the circumstances, students will get help when they or their friends need it.
Not many states have enacted medical amnesty laws -- but several are currently in the process.
I am glad to see New Jersey in the forefront on this. But -- in order for the law to truly save lives, young people need to be aware. So let them know.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org