EASTHAMPTON, MA – Last Thursday, several teens ranging from 16 – 18 years old stood in the rain in front of Jim’s Package Store.
They took turns asking customers, “Excuse me, if we gave you money, would you mind buying a six-pack for us?” But no one complied with their request.
Some customers simply ignored the teens. Others became angry and said “no” immediately.Then the youth, who are actually Peer Leaders from a neighboring town, quickly explained they were conducting a Shoulder Tap survey organized by the Easthampton Police Department and the SPIFFY Coalition.The youth handed customers a small yellow card that read, “Thank you for helping save a life!”
“When the customers understood the survey’s purpose is to educate the community about the dangers of supplying alcohol to minors, their attitudes changed completely,” said Heather Warner, Prevention Specialist for the Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) Coalition. None of the 26 adults surveyed agreed to buy beer for the teens that evening. Had any adult agreed to purchase alcohol as asked, they would have been informed of the potential penalties for their action.
Since participating youth ask hypothetical questions, and no money changes hands, no laws are broken during the survey’s administration. “The intent of the Shoulder Tap survey is strictly to raise awareness about the importance of keeping teens safe.” said Warner.
For security, undercover Easthampton police officers are within sight at all times during the survey. Shoulder Taps are one of several prevention activities conducted by SPIFFY and Easthampton Police throughout the year.
For more information, please visit www.spiffycoalition.org.