Parents host drinking parties for children and their friends.

Posted on Oct 14, 2007

It is hard to understand why parents would want to host a drinking party in their homes for their children and their children’s friends. Yet this has become an alarmingly common practice across the country. There has been a growing concern across the United States about under-age drinking at house parties. Concern in the state of Minnesota may be leading to changes in the law. The City of Chaska has become the first Minnesota city to approve a social host liability law which makes it illegal for a host to knowingly allow alcoholic beverage consumption by minors on their premises. At least 32 states, and several cities and communities in states that have not passed it statewide, have such laws in place. The City Council of Chaska took action after the Carver County Board of Commissioners continued to stall when it came to making a decision.

According to a University of Minnesota analysis , most common sources of alcohol are the young person’s own home and from persons over the age of 21 who buy the alcohol for them. The number of parties in homes where alcohol is consumed is growing, according to law enforcement officials. Deaths from drinking alcohol at home parties underscore the need for a tougher law on the hosts. National research shows that 57 percent of minors say they drink at friends’ homes; 30 percent report they drank alcohol at home with their parents’ permission. Critics of the laws are calling them an invasion of privacy and the home, saying that parents should be the ones to take responsibility for where and how much their children drink.

It is inconceivable that there are parents who allow young people to drink at Homecoming and Prom parties, saying they prefer to have young people drinking at home than driving somewhere else. Such logic is flawed, because they could be liable if someone who was at the party ends up causing a traffic accident. Today experts say alcohol is the drug of choice and the leading cause of death among teenagers. The Institute for Public Strategies reports that alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all the teenage accidents and in over half of the youth suicides. The law in Chaska is not applicable for parents who provide alcohol to their own children in their home or provide alcohol for religious observances. Also not liable are parents are who leave on vacation that have children who host drinking parties without their knowledge.

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