Through SCAP Shoulder Tap Surveys & Compliance Checks, Somerville Youth Ask Adults to “Just Say No”

Annual programs are part of prevention and enforcement strategies in Somerville.

SOMERVILLE – Somerville Cares About Prevention (SCAP) announced today the results of the program’s annual “Shoulder Tap Surveys,” designed to discourage adults from purchasing alcohol for people under twenty-one. During the project, youth worked to measure the willingness of a complete stranger to purchase alcohol for a minor.

SCAP also announced this fall the beginning of their annual Compliance Checks, assessing how Somerville establishments perform in regards to preventing underage sales to minors. Compliance checks will continue at random through September 2019.

The Shoulder Tap Survey is part of a cooperative effort between SCAP, the Somerville Police Department, the Everett Community Health Partnership, and local retail liquor stores. Students involved in the Shoulder Tap Surveys hope to raise awareness among adults who may be inclined to provide alcohol to under-aged minors. Youth, with the support of Somerville Police officers, approach adult strangers near the entrance of the liquor store and ask if they would buy them alcohol. If the adult agreed to purchase alcohol for the minor, students issued a card stating, “Next time, just say NO!” along with information about laws and penalties which include: arrest, a fine up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year. If adults refused to complete the purchase for the student, they were issued a card thanking them for helping to save lives.

Of the 84 adults surveyed, 82 declined to complete the purchase for the youth. 2018 surveys were conducted outside of retail stores in Davis and Union Squares.

Similarly, Compliance Checks are conducted in cooperation with the Somerville Police Department, and all participating youth are trained prior to the random checks at local retailers.

“We have looked into how we can best ensure compliance is maintained and sustained each year based on the research done,” said Matthew Mitchell, the City’s new Prevention Services Manager, citing a Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) sponsored survey completed in 2012 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). “Research suggests monthly variations in substance use initiation among adolescents. In conjunction with the community, we hope to continue our successful campaigns against drug and alcohol abuse as mindfully as possible; ensuring youth don’t have easy access to alcohol.”

“Through these initiatives, SCAP youth are working to promote a healthy community for their peers, and to raise awareness of the Social Host Liability Law,” said SCAP Program Director, Lovelee Heller-Bottari. “Through projects like this, SCAP is able to communicate the importance and effectiveness of limiting youth access to alcohol to help reduce underage drinking. Coalition prevention efforts reflect the power of community collaboration to help promote a safer environment for youth.”

Somerville youth leaders are part of SCAP’s Somerville Positive Forces youth development programming working to lead positive change in the community. The mission of SPF is to support social change that would empower youth to make healthier decisions regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

SCAP is a community-based coalition under the Somerville Office of Prevention supported by the City of Somerville’s Health and Human Services Department. Their mission is to reduce substance abuse among the residents of Somerville as well as the harms associated with such use. SCAP works to engage and mobilize both youth and adults to implement community-based projects aimed at reducing access of alcohol to underage youth. Young people are very much an integral part of the SCAP mission and a powerful force in the prevention of underage drinking.

For more information about Somerville’s prevention services, please contact Prevention Services Manager, Matthew Mitchell, at 617-625-6600 x2570 or and/or SCAP Program Director, Lovelee Heller-Bottari, at 617-625-6600 x4322 or

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