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Summer is one of those seasons that we all look forward to. It’s full of uniquely American holidays like Independence Day with backyard barbeques, vacations with family among many other great things.  Warm weather, family, good friends, and good food are always fun and relaxing and worth celebrating.

It is also not a time to forget or loosen up your rules regarding underage drinking. We often find more “social hosting” taking place during the summer months at parents’ and adults’ houses. Social hosting is a situation in which parents or adults allow teens to have alcohol-fueled parties at their house under the false belief that it is safer than allowing them go out and find other places and means to drink alcohol. This couldn’t be a more misguided and dangerous belief.

98% of parents don’t think it is acceptable for anyone to provide alcohol to their teen without permission and eight out of ten adults disagree with parents providing alcohol to their sons and daughters at all. Those numbers don’t lie – and should be respected.

Unfortunately, all too often we hear stories about social hosting taking place in which teens are served alcohol at parties under the supervision of parents or other adults. While it might seem well intentioned to keep teens under your own roof, it sets an incredibly bad and dangerous example. Not only is it illegal to drink prior to turning 21, but it is unhealthy and can lead to some pretty serious legal troubles, both civil and in some cases even criminal.  

There are numerous examples of teens leaving these parties in their cars drunk, having crashes, and seriously injuring and even killing themselves or others.  That alone should be a good enough reason NOT to allow underage drinking at your house. In many cases where social hosting has taken place we have seen parents of teens who were served alcohol file lawsuits against the social hosts, and we have seen lives changed forever because of drunk driving crashes.

In 2009, a woman in Kansas City, Missouri hosted a party for teens at her house and served alcohol to those who attended. Shortly following the party, a 19 year old boy left the party in his car, with a blood alcohol level more than two and a half times the legal limit, and drove home. On his way he struck a vehicle and killed a 16 year old passenger in the other car. The host of the party where the 19 year old teen was drinking has recently been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The teen who attended the party and unintentionally killed the passenger of the other car faces charges of his own related to the tragedy.

We all love summer. Let’s all make a conscious effort to keep our youth safe and alcohol-free. Social hosting is dangerous and has led to many easily preventable tragedies. Giving teens access to alcohol doesn’t need to be included in the mix of summer activities. Play it smart this summer and have backyard pool parties for our teens that include copious amounts of hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, lemonade, and good old fashioned common sense. Social hosting is quite simply dangerous and just plain wrong.