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Parents play a major role in their children’s choices about alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. A recent national survey of parents and teens by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found one-third of teen partygoers have been to parties where teens were drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or using cocaine, ecstasy or prescription drugs while a parent was present. By age 17, nearly half (46 percent) of teens have been at such parties where parents were present.
Drug-Free Action Alliance has developed the Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don’t be a party to teenage drinking public awareness campaign to provide you with information about the health risks of underage drinking and the legal consequences of providing alcohol to youth.
As a parent, you cannot give alcohol to your teen’s friends under the age of 21 under any circumstance, even in your own home, even with their parent’s permission. You also cannot knowingly allow a person under 21, other than your own child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or possessing alcohol. There are legal consequences if you do. According to the law, you can be prosecuted and face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and loss of property.
Simply taking away the car keys does not solve all of the problems related to underage drinking. Every day, at least six youth under 21 die from non-driving alcohol-related causes, such as drowning and suicide. Delinquent behaviors also increase with underage drinking.
You can protect your children by following these guidelines when hosting teen parties:
- Host safe, alcohol-free activities and events for youth during prom and graduation season
- Refuse to supply alcohol to children or allow drinking in your home or on your property
- Be at home when your teenager has a party
- Make sure your teenager’s friends do not bring alcohol into your home
- Talk to other parents about not providing alcohol at youth events
- Report underage drinking
Our youth deserve to live and grow to adulthood in an environment where alcohol is not misused. Let’s be unified in our message, and host alcohol-free parties with plenty of fun activities to show our youth that we care about their future.
Teenage Drinking Prevention Tips for Parents
If your teen is giving a party
- Help your teenager plan the party. Make a guest list and invite only a specific number of people.
- Have your child pass out or send invitations and try to avoid the “open party” situation.
- Don’t send e-mail invitations. They can be forwarded to a large number of people quickly and you lose control of who has this information.
- Put your phone number on the invitation and welcome calls from parents.
- Set rules ahead of time such as no alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Set a start and end time for the party.
- Let attendees know that if they leave, they can’t come back.
- Have plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Plan some activities such as music, games, movies, etc.
- Let your neighbors know in advance there will be a party and that you will be there to supervise. Familiarize yourself with the noise ordinance in your area.
- Limit the party access to a certain area of the house/property.
- Have a plan for dealing with vehicles. Include parking information on your party invitation.
- Call parents of any teen who arrives in possession of alcohol or under the influence. If you can’t get in touch with the parents, keep the teen there or call the police if necessary. You can be civilly liable if you know they have been drinking and you let them leave.
- Secure all forms of alcohol, firearms and other potentially hazardous items in your home in a safe place.
- Familiarize yourself with you community’s noise ordinances.
- Make regular and unobtrusive visits to the party area with sensitivity to teens’ needs for privacy and independence.
- Invite some other parents to help chaperone if there will be a large number of teenagers.
When you’re away from home or out of town
- Set and communicate rules and standards to be followed in your absence.
- Do not allow underage youth to have unsupervised parties or gatherings.
- Remind them of their responsibilities and the consequences of their actions.
- Have a relative or responsible adult stay at your home during your absence, have your teenager stay with a responsible adult or ask a neighbor to watch the house and stop in while you are gone.
- If you are concerned that your child might have a party anyway, you can call your local police and ask them to drive by at some point over the time you are gone. Make it a point to tell your child that you have asked the police to do this.
If your teen is attending a party
- Know where your child will be. Call the parent in charge to verify the occasion and location of the party and ensure there will be adult supervision.
- Ask how many teens are expected at the party and offer to help supervise or provide refreshments.
- Make certain that the host will not be serving or allowing alcohol. Ask how they plan to handle the situation if a teen shows up with alcohol or has been drinking.
- Indicate your expectations to your child and the parent hosting the party that if the teens leave and go somewhere else, you will want to know.
- Set a curfew for your teen to be home and when they arrive home, have them check in with you.
- Know how your child is getting to and from the party. Reinforce the message to your teenager that they should never allow someone who has been drinking or using other drugs to drive them anywhere.
- Assure your child that they can telephone you to be picked up whenever needed.
- If the activity seems inappropriate, express concern and keep your child home.
- Get to know your children’s friends and their parents.
- Find out their policy on alcohol, drug and tobacco use.
- Remember, it is illegal to serve minors, or to knowingly allow a minor to have alcohol on your property.
- Encourage alcohol-free and drug-free parties and activities for underage youth.
Underage Drinking Prevention Services For Parents
The Wyckoff Municipal Alliance is a committee comprised of residents, police, and professionals appointed by the Wyckoff Township Committee who work to provide anti-alcohol and anti-drug message to children. The Wyckoff Municipal Alliance provides programs and information to parents on how to talk to teens.
Programs are provided to educate senior citizens regarding prescription drug use, alcohol interaction, health behavior and positive decision making. The Wyckoff Municipal Alliance is one of 66 Municipal Alliances that work with the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA).
Wyckoff Municipal Alliance