Underage drinking parties continue to be a major problem countywide, and parents are hosting them at an alarming rate. According to Gary Pearce, Executive Director for Talbot Partnership for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, recent surveys indicate a growing number of parents are allowing their children to host drinking parties in Talbot County.
According to Mr. Pearce, while many well-meaning parents think teenage drinking is a rite of passage they can’t or shouldn’t prevent, studies have shown when parents host or enable drinking parties that youth tend to drink more and feel empowered to drink at other times. These well-meaning parents believe they can teach their children to drink responsibly at home. They provide the alcohol, and mistakenly believe they are protecting their children if they take away their car keys. These beliefs, although well-meaning, are wrong. Permitting underage drinking is a crime.
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 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.
Providing alcohol to a minor is a civil violation with fines up to $2,500 for a first offense and $5,000 for subsequent offenses. Parents who host an underage drinking party can be charged $500 per minor for a first offense and $1,000 per minor for a second offense. You can also face a maximum sentence of six months in jail. Others can sue you if you give alcohol to anyone under 21 and they, in turn, hurt someone, hurt themselves or damage property. Officers can take any alcohol, money or property used in committing the offense.
Things you can do as a parent:
• Refuse to supply alcohol to anyone under 21.
• Be at home when your teen has a party.
• Make sure that alcohol is not brought into your home or property by your teen’s friends.
• Talk to other parents about not providing alcohol at other events your child will be attending.
• Create alcohol-free opportunities and activities in your home so teens feel welcome.
• Report underage drinking to local law enforcement.
For further information on alcohol and other drug abuse prevention, contact Talbot Partnership at 410-819-8067.