The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 29, 2002


Coakley praises teen safety alliance

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley tries more than criminal cases. In her role as chief prosecutor she also tries to prevent problems from escalating to the point where court action is required. Last week in an address to over 40 members of Concord-Carlisle Alliance for Teen Safety at CCHS, Coakley praised the group for being proactive. "I am impressed by what you are doing in this community by bringing professionals and parents together. It is both simple and brilliant," she said.

Coakley said that, while Concord and Carlisle do not have outward signs of crimes associated with some urban areas, it would be a mistake to presume that there are not significant instances of domestic violence and child abuse that affect families. She noted that widespread suburban youth binge drinking and drunk driving are often signs of more serious underlying problems. "Depression among young people is one of the most under-diagnosed causes of risky behavior," she said.

Coakley outlined a prevention strategy that includes recognizing teen problems, identifying the root causes, providing resources, and putting those resources to work. She shared her personal family experience of her brother who, although diagnosed as manic-depressive, refused to accept treatment and ultimately committed suicide. "For everyone we don't help, there are several we do," said Coakley. "One of the reasons prevention is really hard, is that we never know the problems we prevent."

In the end, Coakley said, there is no single solution to reaching young people whose feelings of disconnection lead to serious problems. "Kids need what they have always needed love, respect, and, yes, discipline. But at the very least I'd like to make sure that every kid has someone who says hello every day."

Coakley concluded with words that struck a chord with parents in the audience, "It's not going to be easy and it's never going to end."

The Alliance for Teen Safety is a newly established coalition and non-profit organization of parents, human service agencies, organizations and citizens from Carlisle and Concord working together to impact the lives of youth. The Alliance serves as a forum and clearinghouse for ideas, program development, and the sharing of resources between public and private organizations that support youth and families.

For more information about the Alliance, please contact Barbara Howland at 1-978-318-1432 or

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito