To the editor,

May is a month of celebration for high school and college graduates, parents, families and those simply glad that school will soon be out for the summer. However, it is also a month to remember that underage alcohol consumption is not acceptable. It is illegal, unsafe, and unhealthy for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol. Alcohol is a leading cause of teenage death and has the potential to cause brain damage and to create patterns of addiction in the developing neurological system which can last a lifetime.

Underage alcohol consumption is a serious problem that too often leads to harmful consequences for youth as well as their families. Parents and other adults can protect themselves and their teens by being informed, vigilant and by setting rules and standards for the use of alcohol.

The facts are that parents or other adults who give alcohol to their teen’s friends under any circumstances, even in their own homes, are breaking the law. It is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4000, confinement in jail for up to a year, or both. The violator will also have his or her driver’s license automatically suspended for 180 days.

Adults can be sued if they provide alcohol to anyone under 21 and they in turn hurt someone, hurt themselves or damage property. It is also illegal to knowingly allow a minor to have or bring alcohol into your home or onto your property. This can result in prosecution and everything associated with such a violation can be confiscated, including personal property

There are many ways to host safe and alcohol free parties for graduation and summer events:

Refuse to supply alcohol or allow drinking on your property.

Create an invitation list and do not e-mail invitations to avoid “open parties”.

Be at home during the party.

Limit access to a certain area of the house/property.

Provide plenty of food, non-alcoholic beverages, music, games or movies.

Secure all forms of alcohol, firearms and prescription drugs in a safe place.

Inform attendees that if they leave, they cannot come back.

Set a start and end time for the party.

According to a recent national survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, by age 17, nearly half (46 percent) of teens have been to parties where teens were drinking alcohol, smoking pot, or using cocaine, Ecstasy or prescription drugs while parents were present. So, let’s take a stand by hosting safe parties and by talking with other parents about doing the same. Our children are worth the effort and the quotation that “Parents Who Host, Lose The Most” is valid.

Sincerely,

Linda Dane,

STAR Council Erath County Community Coalition