buying minors booze not a wise move

It’s almost summer (if it ever stops raining).

For teens, that means parties — celebrating everything from prom to graduation, to two months without school — and those parties often involve alcohol.

Many parents try to handle the dilemma of allowing their kids to have a good time without getting hurt by providing alcohol to teens at semi-supervised house parties. But is that really the best solution?

Consider recent cases where police have investigated fatalities and motor vehicle crashes. During one investigation, it was revealed that the alcohol had been obtained from his friend’s parents, who had hosted an underage drinking party at their home. This story, unfortunately, is not unique.

It follows a disturbing trend of parents hosting “drinking parties” for their children and their children’s friends.Underage drinking is a persistent problem in our communities.

Many parents swear they would not give their children alcohol.

So where are these teens getting the alcohol? Much emphasis is placed on bars and liquor stores that sell alcohol to minors. According to a recent study by the Century Council, 65 per cent of underage drinkers get their alcohol from relatives or friends, with only seven per cent of teenagers reported obtaining alcohol from retailers.

Parents need to know there are real consequences for their actions and not merely a slap on the wrist.

Those who support parental supervision of teenage drinking say it teaches children how to be responsible with alcohol in a safe environment.

But that argument doesn’t persuade me. Children who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholic as an adult than those who begin at 21, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

As parents you have to ask yourselves who is liable if someone leaves your alcohol-hosted party and causes harm to themselves or others?

Who is liable if something happens at an alcohol-hosted party in your home?

It is illegal to provide alcohol to young people under the age of 19 in your home.

The exception is your own children. Will you have insurance coverage if something happens in your home if you are serving alcohol to underage or legal age people.

The legal risks are something every parent should examine closely before hosting such an event.

Can you afford the potential legal, financial and personal consequences?

Finally, there is no way to guarantee a completely safe environment when alcohol is involved.

Parents may think taking away keys will do the trick, but drunk driving is only one of the many concerns when teenagers get a hold of alcohol.

What about alcohol poisoning, rape or serious injuries, all of which can result from drinking?

As parents, it is our responsibility to protect our children and teach them right from wrong.

It is not cool or hip to host drinking parties for your children and their friends — it’s simply dangerous with a multitude of risks and potential consequences. It’s also up to us to cut off one of the many sources of alcohol out there for teenagers. We are also committed to providing your children with prevention education.

So if your children ask, just say no.

— column courtesy of Ladysmith RCMP