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The Dangers of Social Hosting: Are You an Enabler?

It’s that time of year when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season comes into full swing. Social calendars fill quickly and it’s time to party!

Adults aren’t the only ones partying; teens are too. With schools closing their doors for a couple of weeks, teens have some extra time on their hands to hang out with their friends and throw their own little holiday bash. Unfortunately, some of those parties may be serving up something more than punch and soda, which brings up the timely topic of the dangers of social hosting.

What is Social Hosting?

With social hosting it doesn’t matter who supplies the booze, it’s all about the property the crime is being committed on.-Raychelle Lohmann

Social hosting refers to adults who knowingly or unknowingly host underage drinking parties on their property. With social hosting it doesn’t matter who supplies the booze, it’s all about the property the crime is being committed on. Each state has its own underage drinking laws and a lot of them hold parents accountable for the minors’ alcohol consumption. To top it off, some states hold parents responsible even if they don’t know that teens are drinking in their home.

Social hosting has legal consequences. For example, in many states, social host penalties include legal fines and possible imprisonment, but more than abiding by any law is the moral obligation that we owe our teens. Think about it…parents who knowingly social host may be:

  • Giving a teen a drink that opens the door to life-long alcoholism
  • Placing a teen in physical jeopardy, such as alcohol poisoning
  • Risking a teen’s life as well as others who leave the party intoxicated

If you’d like to learn more about social hosting laws in your state, visit the Alcohol Policy Information System website.

Imagine this set up: You and your partner go to an office party, leaving your responsible 17-year-old at home. While you’re out, your teen invites some of his friends over for a get-together. One of the friends brings along some drinks and before long, unbeknownst to you, your teen has five other teens in your house popping beer cans and mixing up some vodka and juice. Now depending on the state you live in you can be held accountable for those intoxicated teens.

Below are some other scenarios that could land a parent into trouble.

  • If their teen has friends over and they raid the liquor cabinet
  • If they have a piece of rural property and their teen and his/her friends throw a party on the property
  • If they decide they’d rather have them drink in their home than somewhere else and willingly allow them to drink

What You Need to Know About Underage Drinking

Teen drinking can have grave consequences and lead to serious future problems. Take a look below at the detrimental effects of teen alcohol use.

  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among teens (CDC).
  • Every year 3.4 million Americans, ages 12 and older, undergo treatment for alcoholism and alcohol-related problems (APA).
  • Approximately 25 percent of teens (ages 12 to 20 years), report getting alcohol from adults such as parents, other family members (SAMHSA).
  • Approximately 37 percent of teens (ages 12 to 20 years), report getting alcohol from an unrelated person aged 21 or older (SAMHSA).
  • Approximately 5,000 underage youth die each year from alcohol-related automobile crashes (NIAAA).

Expectations With No Exceptions

…83 percent of teens report that parents are the primary reason why they don’t drink alcohol.-Raychelle Lohmann

According to a recent study, when laws hold adults responsible for social hosting, teens are less likely to drink. In fact when parents set clear boundaries and expectations teen listen. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, 83 percent of teens report that parents are the primary reason why they don’t drink alcohol. On the flip side, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs in communities where adults report drinking more, teens report drinking more. The study also found that teens who live in areas with strict social host laws were 20 percent less likely to drink at parties compared to teens who reside in areas with no social host laws.

So it appears that parental expectations do matter.

Before the holiday season gets into full swing, set some time aside to speak with your teen about the dangers of drinking and using drugs. Let him know where you stand on the issue. Also, in the event your teen goes to a party and others are drinking, encourage her to give you a call so you can come and pick her up. The last thing you’d want is your teen to hop in the car with an intoxicated driver, nor do you want your teen to be the designated driver. Just think about all of the things that could happen toting an intoxicated teen home. Your teen may not be equipped to handle all of the dangers this situation may pose. It’s best to have a responsible adult get the teen home safely.

The decision to social host is irresponsible, negligent and risky. Teens need the adults in their lives to be mentors and role models who look out for their wellbeing and welfare. Let’s make this holiday season a safe one for our youth. Teach your teen that he/she doesn’t need alcohol to have a good time.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

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