Supplying alcohol to a minor is a crime. The criminal penalty for contributing to the delinquency of a minor is up to a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail. With a prior conviction, the penalties increase to up to a $5,000 fine and 1 year in jail. Civil liabilities can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Refuse to supply alcohol to underage youth in your home or on your property. Teen alcohol use is not a rite of passage into adulthood. In fact, alcohol has kept many teens from becoming adults.
Some parents feel they are providing a “safe” environment, promoting responsible drinking, and protecting kids from risky behaviors associated with alcohol if they allow drinking in their home but take the keys. Multiple studies in several countries concluded that allowing teens to drink alcohol at home in the presence of parents did not inhibit alcohol use, including harmful use. Teens allowed to drink at home drank more often and in greater quantities when their parents were not around. They also were six times more likely to develop alcohol-related problems than those who delayed drinking until age 21.
Young people can die from alcohol poisoning at a home as easily as they can anywhere else. It's important to remember that alcohol kills more young people than all illegal drugs combined.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) found that 68 percent of deaths related to underage alcohol use are not traffic-related. The study found 32 percent of these deaths are traffic-related, 30 percent are homicides, 14 percent are suicides, 9 percent are alcohol poisonings and 15 percent are from other causes. These statistics show that taking away the keys truly does not take away all of the risks when it comes to underage drinking.
What can parents do to prevent underage drinking?
· Be aware of what your kids are doing at other people’s homes. A majority of current alcohol users aged 12 to 20 drank at someone else’s home the last time they drank alcohol.
· Monitor or lock up the alcohol in your home.
· Model moderation when it comes to alcohol.
· Talk about the legal aspects of alcohol consumption.
· Be very clear that you expect them to wait until they are 21 to drink. Say it out loud, and repeat it often.
· Be consistent by never providing alcohol to someone who is underage.
· Establish rules and consequences, and follow through.
· Talk about the effects of alcohol. Explain how it affects judgment and muscle coordination. Explain the risks. Teens under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in auto accidents, falls, and sexual assaults.
· Remind kids that decisions they make as teens are important and can affect the rest of their lives.
Parents are the number one influence on their children’s decisions about alcohol, so it’s imperative that parents have frequent conversations with their kids about the dangers of underage drinking, and never provide alcohol to minors.
For more information, please visit us on Facebook at Council for a Drug Free LaGrange County – CDFLC.