Help Your Teen Enjoy Fun, Yet Safe and Drug-Free Graduation Parties
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.
The Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don’t be a party to teenage drinking campaign was created by Drug-Free Action Alliance to send the message that underage drinking is unsafe, unhealthy and unacceptable. It also addresses the potential legal ramifications for all involved.
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 Ohio law, you can be prosecuted and face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and loss of property.
With graduation season upon us, it is imperative for parents to be aware of the increased risk of teen alcohol parties occurring and the potential dangers that accompany those alcohol-fueled gatherings. Simply taking away the car keys does not solve all of the problems related to underage drinking.
It is important for parents to proactively take measures to help ensure these special times are fun, yet safe and drug-free for their teens.
The Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don’t be a party to teenage drinking campaign has suggestions for parents (and teens) planning celebratory parties:
•Create a party plan together.
•Make a guest list and invite only a specific number of people.
•Pass out or send invitations and try to avoid the “open party” situation.Do not e-mail or text invitations that can then be easily forwarded to a large number of people (you will quickly lose control of who is invited).
•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 cannot 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 you are planning a supervised party.
•Familiarize yourself with your community’s noise ordinance.Limit the party access to a certain area of the house/property.
•Have a plan for dealing with vehicles (include this information on your invitation).
•Call parents of any teen who arrives in possession of alcohol or under the influence.
•If you cannot 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.
•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.
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.
For additional parent tips and ideas, visit www.DrugFreeActionAlliance.org.
Drug-Free Action Alliance is a non-profit organization providing leadership to promote safe and drug free communities throughout Ohio. Programs and initiatives include Drug Free 24/7, Know!, Ohio Center for Coalition Excellence, Ohio College Initiative to Reduce High Risk Drinking, Ohio Youth Philanthropy Council and Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don’t be a party to teenage drinking.