Article Comment 

New state law targets parents who allow teens to drink

 

The Associated Press

 

JACKSON -- Gov. Haley Barbour has signed into law a bill that supporters say will make it easier to prosecute parents who host drinking parties for teenagers. 

 

The Clarion-Ledger reports the "social host" bill makes adults liable for knowingly allowing underage drinking on their property. It applies to any private property, including deer camps or lake houses, said Caroline Newkirk, head of Mississippians Advocating Against Underage Drinking. 

 

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, is not likely to wipe out teenage drinking parties entirely, "but it could take care of a large majority of them," Newkirk said. 

 

A violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail. 

 

"This definitely strengthens the law," said Andre Conway of the Central Mississippi office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "We feel this law will be very effective in raising awareness and curtailing the behavior." 

 

Parties where teens invite their buddies over with their parents'' permission to throw open the liquor cabinet or raid a fridge full of beer are common everywhere in the state, Newkirk said. 

 

"It is a problem statewide, but we see a lot in this community. We don''t see as many as we used to," said Ridgeland police Sgt. Gary Davis, who works as a resource officer in Ridgeland High School. 

 

While he applauds the new law, Davis said law enforcement can''t know about every party, especially when parents and teens make sure to keep the drinking under wraps. 

 

"Unless a kid stumbles into a yard or there are a lot of cars at a house, we don''t know," he said. "They''ve got it to a fine art so they''re not detected. 

 

"There are parents hosting parties who will have the kids park at another location and they''ll shuttle them -- pick them up and bring them to their house," Davis said. 

 

The idea of those adults is that if the teens don''t have their cars they can''t get into trouble, Davis said. 

 

"There are so many parents who are not aware the dangers of underage drinking go beyond drinking and driving," Newkirk said. "There are injuries that can take place without a car."  

 

New research shows the long-term affect alcohol can have on teenagers'' brains, Newkirk said.  

 

"Drinking at young ages can cause irreparable brain damage." 

 

Currently, local officials have to rely on charging adults with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The stronger penalty and the criminal liability should make parents or other adults consider the consequences of hosting parties, Newkirk said. 

 

According to the Alcohol Policy Information System, as of Jan. 1, 2010, eight states had social host laws specifically directed at underage drinking, while 19 other states had general hosting laws.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 4/4/2011 12:09:00 PM:

Does this apply to the ACTUAL children of the parents as well? I think I should have the right to serve my OWN children alcohol in my OWN home.

 

Article Comment dm commented at 4/4/2011 12:49:00 PM:

Why would anyone want to 'serve' their kids alcohol? The only people I can think of that would want to do such a thing are people who are probably not fans of Chris Hansen.

 

Article Comment violet line commented at 4/4/2011 11:06:00 PM:

All I can say is thank God for alocolics annoumous way to o should you teach them to drink and drive to.Another bar right around the corner.We will show you what to do. And lets see if we can kill someone along the way.

 

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 4/5/2011 11:59:00 AM:

"Why would anyone want to 'serve' their kids alcohol? The only people I can think of that would want to do such a thing are people who are probably not fans of Chris Hansen."

Really? There is a HUGE stigma attached to alcohol in this country, which, IMO, is what MAKES kids go drinking. Ever notice kids DON'T sneak off and do stuff they are ALLOWED to do?

Either way, they are MY kids, and it is MY house. I have a problem with FAT kids and parents who support them, are you okay with the government stopping YOU from giving your kid fattening foods in YOUR home?

 

Article Comment kj commented at 4/5/2011 12:03:00 PM:

How about a law targeting parents who knowingly allow their kids to behave like animals in public.

 

Article Comment dm commented at 4/7/2011 2:17:00 PM:

"Really? There is a HUGE stigma attached to alcohol in this country, which, IMO, is what MAKES kids go drinking. Ever notice kids DON'T sneak off and do stuff they are ALLOWED to do?

Either way, they are MY kids, and it is MY house. I have a problem with FAT kids and parents who support them, are you okay with the government stopping YOU from giving your kid fattening foods in YOUR home?"

Fat kids don't kill other people with their fat. They can kill themselves with overeating all they want. But a drunk teen can do a lot of damage. Alcohol + underdeveloped brain = bad combo.

 

Article Comment kj commented at 4/7/2011 4:10:00 PM:

And here in Mississippi, we have the most underdeveloped brains of all the states.

 

Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 4/8/2011 5:03:00 AM:

Zen, the next time you have a thought all by yourself, let it go.

The part that amazes me is with all the shortcomings of this state, with all the issues around employee rights here, with all the other state agencies who spend most of their time telling you how it is they CAN'T help you instead of how they CAN help you, I am surprised to find there are enough parents in this state who will supply their kids with alcohol that it became necessary for the state to pass a law on it.

Hmmm...those parents might explain the aforementioned problems.

Nevermind.

 

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