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The opinion piece recently posted by The Patriot Ledger on the topic of “social hosting” provides another opportunity for us to have a conversation about underage drinking and parents’ role in keeping youth safe.

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. Unfortunately, there are parents who are unaware that social hosting and providing alcohol to youth under the age of 21 is also illegal, even if it’s in a protected environment. “Social hosting,” providing and/or serving alcohol to a young person who is under 21, can have serious consequences. Not only can it get the hosts in trouble with the law, but it also puts kids at great risk.

In the Marshfield case, it is great to see that at least one parent decided to do the right thing in this situation and requested law enforcement to further investigate the incident.  Fortunately, there were no tragedies to regret as a result of this event. Reality shows this is not normally the case.

We know that adults are the leading source of alcohol for youth who drink. We also know that parents wield the most influence over a kid’s decision to drink – or not to drink – alcohol.  It is time for parents to be proactive in their approach in dealing with underage drinking.

At The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility we believe that parents hold the key to educating youth about the dangers of underage drinking.  They must engage in ongoing conversations with their kids about this important topic from an early age. Several of our programs aim to facilitate such conversations.

Actions speak louder than words; therefore, parents must also set a good example for their sons and daughters. They should create an environment where underage drinking is not acceptable, and establish rules and communicate those rules in a positive manner.  Equally important, parents should remember to praise their children when they make good decisions, but hold them accountable when they break the rules.  

Need more information to help you talk to your kids?  Check out the Not in Our House free one-pager.  The time to #JoinTheConvo is now! Later may be too late!