Real Life Problems and Solutions
The following press accounts tell not only what happens when adults serve alcohol to teens, but also how some communities are responding to illegal drinking among teens.
- Warning: Adults, Don’t Serve Drinks to Teens
- Parents contemplating the best way to ensure a safe prom season should not allow young people to drink in their homes, prosecutors and advocates said Wednesday. That's the message they conveyed after yet another adult pleaded guilty to criminal charges for hosting a party with underage drinkers. A Monroeville, PA man was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $7,420 to cover the funeral costs for an 18 year-old who died last July after a party at the man’s house. The man had told his teen guests not to leave the house if they had been drinking, but the victim got into an argument, left the house with a blood alcohol level of 0.23, and crashed into a tractor-trailer. "I spent 18 years raising my child. What gives another adult the right to give him alcohol?" said K.S., the victim’s mother.
Tribune-Review, May 1, 2008
- Woman Gets Jail Time in Party Death
- An Arnold, Pennsylvania woman will spend up to 23 months in jail for hosting an underage drinking party that resulted in the death of a 16-year-old girl. The teen drank large amounts of vodka, rum, and beer, reaching a blood-alcohol level of 0.44 percent – over five times the level at which an adult motorist is considered to be intoxicated in the state of Pennsylvania. Although the woman had not provided the alcohol for the party, she was at home when it occurred. “Adults have the responsibility to supervise and oversee to make sure minors aren’t consuming alcohol, because it can have dire consequences, like it did in this case,” said Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck.
Tribune-Review, April 18, 2008
- Adults Cited for Buying Alcohol for Youth in “Shoulder Tap” Sting
- Research shows that one way teens get alcohol is through “shoulder taps” – where a teen approaches an adult outside a package store and asks the adult to make a purchase on the teen’s behalf. Roseville Police Department Crime Suppression Unit conducted a sting operation to deter adults from cooperating in “shoulder taps.” Teens working under the direct supervision of Roseville Police officers waited outside alcohol retail outlets and asked customers outside the store to purchase alcohol for them. Adults who bought alcohol for youth during this operation were subject to a $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service.
Rocklin & Roseville Today, April 18, 2008
- Ravenna Pair Pleads Guilty After Teens Found Drinking at Their Home
- A former Ravenna Board of Education member and her husband were given suspended jail sentences of 180 days and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service each, following an underage drinking party in their home. When police were called to the residence following complaints about loud music, they found 20 teens on the premises, some holding drinks. Both adults admitted that they were in the home during the party, but claimed that they did not provide the alcohol to the teens.
Recordpub.com, March 28, 2008
- Parents Found Guilty For Turning Blind Eye To Basement Party
- Two parents were found guilty of using their home to serve minors, endangering the life of a minor, and attempting to obstruct justice by misleading investigators following a teen drinking party in their home. The parents claimed that they were watching a baseball game on television in October 2006, unaware that 20 teenagers were drinking liquor and beer in their basement, one floor below. The party, hosted by their 19-year-old son, was held in celebration of the local high school’s homecoming football game. Two 18-year-old boys were killed in the driveway while attempting to return to the party.
Lake County News-Sun, July 21, 2007
- Noise Complaint Leads to Drinking Citations
- Cook County authorities issued citations to almost four dozen alleged underage drinkers after breaking up a weekend house party. Two adults, who lived at the residence, also were cited for permitting minors to become intoxicated. Police arrived at the home after midnight following noise complaints.
abc7chicago.com, July 31, 2007
- Teacher Sentenced for Providing Alcohol on Prom Night
- A former North Carolina high school social sciences teacher, baseball coach, and student mentor was sentenced recently after pleading guilty to furnishing beer, vodka, and wine coolers to three students on prom night. Suspended for one and a half years from teaching, P.E. has resigned from his position and plans on leaving the state as soon as possible. At his sentencing, P.E. told the court that he was truly sorry for the lapse in judgement that cost him his career.
WCNC.com, Charlotte, NC; August 28, 2006
Real Community Action
- Mock Crash Shows Tragic Consequences of DUI as Prom Season Nears
- In order to show the deadly consequences of drunk driving, members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) staged a mock crash at Pocono Mountain High School East. Pocono Township police, volunteer firefighters, and paramedics responded to the mock crash as they would to a real accident. The mock crashes are held every year at a different high school among Monroe County’s four school districts. SADD chapter adviser Dana Evans said, “In the six years that I’ve been involved with the mock crash presentations . . . I’ve definitely seen an impact on some of the students. The whole idea is to have students make smarter, more responsible decisions”.
Pocono Record, May 1, 2008
- Council Slaps Lid on Teen Drinking
- The Vacaville City Council unanimously passed a Social Host Ordinance to deter adults from allowing underage drinking parties, following a request by the local police department. Violators of the new ordinance face a $1000 administrative fine and may have to reimburse the city for related expenses. According to the police chief, although some parents believe it’s better if teens drink at home, the drinking doesn’t stop when the party ends. He noted that public safety personnel are then left to deal with the aftermath of drinking parties, which can often include sexual assaults, fighting or drunken driving.
TheReporter.com, April 23, 2008
- College Sponsors Alcohol-Free Pre-Prom Party For Local High School Students
- In April 2008, Muskegon Community College hosted a "pre-prom" event for area high school students. MCC students chaperoned the pre-prom party, which included a band, fashion show, prize giveaways and free food and non-alcoholic beverages. “The idea of drinking alcohol is so ingrained in our culture that it's important to keep reminding youths that it's OK not to drink, it's illegal for them to drink and doing so poses a great deal of danger to them,” said A.L., a Muskegon Community College sophomore. Several other Muskegon-area schools are planning alcohol free post-prom activities that include free food, prize giveaways, various games, and bowling.
The Muskegon Chronicle, April 19, 2008
- Project Extra Mile Works to Fight Underage Alcohol Access in Nebraska
- Once a month the Project Extra Mile coalition meets at the Lexington Public Library to discuss how the group can help communities in Nebraska prevent underage drinking. The Project seeks to educate the public about the causes and effects of underage drinking. “We need to identify the source of the alcohol,” said Jessica Phinney, coordinator of Project Extra Mile in Grand Island. The group encourages Nebraska communities to pass ordinances addressing the issue of alcohol at proms, graduations, and weddings. “It’s not really about a rite of passage. We need to get away from that thought,” stated Kurt McBride, Chief Deputy County Attorney for Dawson County, “It’s about changing the culture of the community.”
Lexington Clipper-Herald, April 18, 2008
- Sticker Campaign Sheds Light on Underage Drinking
- Three high school students from Oneida, NY spent an afternoon labeling cases of beer with a sticker that states, “Underage Drinking: Not a Minor Problem.” The students, part of a group called SWAT (Students Working for Alcohol Truths), used the MADD-created stickers to spread the word about underage drinking and remind adults and teens that serving alcohol to minors could result in fines and jail sentences.
Oneida Dispatch, June 19, 2007
- High School Students Will Take Bus to Prom
- Boston area schools explored using buses for prom after learning that students had smuggled liquor into prom the previous year and that a recent teen drinking party had resulted in the death of an 18-year-old. “We as a community . . . need to do more to address drugs and alcohol abuse, and the dangers it presents to students,” said the school principal. “We have an ongoing problem with students drinking before or during dances. It's a game students play with us.”
The Boston Globe, March 21, 2007
- Going to the Source: Local/State Partnership Seeks to Curb Underage Access to Alcohol
- The Source Investigation Partnership (SIP), established in 2005 between local law enforcement and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, aims to address the problem of underage drinking at its source. While previous law enforcement efforts focused solely on disciplining minors found to be drinking underage, the SIP program encourages prosecution of adults who have provided alcohol to those minors. Police Sgt. John O’Donnell of West Chester: “We’ve been arresting underage drinkers for years but this program targets the source.” Six communities across Pennsylvania now have SIP programs and more are planned for the future.
Daily Local News, West Chester, PA; December 18, 2005
- Q. How can parents and other adults affect underage drinking?
- A. (Captain Didone):
Parents are the vital link. Unfortunately, baby boomer parents do not have an accurate assessment of the differences between yesterday and today. Today, the risks involve alcohol poisoning, date rape, and AIDS.
Despite these risks, parents are afraid of being hypocritical. They don’t want to stand up and say to their kids, “Yes, I did drink before the legal drinking age, I was stupid, I was lucky and I’m not going to let you do it.” They want to avoid it. But youth tell us that parents have to be parents. We believe that parents must have good two-way communication with their kids. Kids tell us that they respect parents who are actively involved.
Kids complain that, “there’s nothing to do,” and there is pressure to hold parties. Too often, parents succumb to this pressure. We have a program where we work with parents to organize alcohol-free parties.
- Q. Do you meet with families in advance of a party?
- A. (Captain Didone): Yes, we meet with parents and teens at the home where the party will occur and point out locations in or around the house where problems can arise and what steps to take to reduce the likelihood that these problems will occur. For example, we could talk with parents about what steps they should take if they see an intoxicated youth arrive at the party. We keep a record of when the party is scheduled, and we can return the evening of the event if parents encounter a problem.
- Q. What do you do if you learn that a teen drinking party is underway in Montgomery County?
- A. (Officer Morrison): We can execute a controlled dispersal of the party. Controlled dispersal is a method of safely, effectively, and efficiently shutting down an underage drinking party. We don’t want kids to try to get home on their own and run a high risk of injury, so during a controlled dispersal we have officers surround the house to take away all avenues of escape. We gather the kids, issue citations, and then call their parents to pick them up.
When parents arrive, we take them on a tour of the house. Their feet often stick to the floor after stepping on spilled drinks. They get to see vomit, possibly the location where someone was sexually assaulted.
- Q. What kind of penalties can a parent expect if he or she is caught hosting a teen alcohol party?
- A. (Captain Didone): In Maryland the adult furnishing law is fine-based. Adults can be fined up to $1000 for the first underage guest and $1500 for the second and subsequent guests. Underage persons in possession of alcohol generally get a fine, are required to attend an education course, and perform alternative community service. Collectively, this seems to be the norm in communities across the country.
- Q. Are you satisfied with these penalties? What other kinds of penalties would you like to see?
- A. (Captain Didone): We would like the legislature to mandate that adults who violate furnishing laws be required to attend training and perform alternative community service just like the teens currently do. We would also like to see the legislature enhance these law violations to criminal ones so that the fear of possibly going to jail after the second or third violation would affect some adults’ behavior.
- Q. Does the Alcohol Unit engage in education?
- A. (Officer Morrison): Education is a major focus for us. We have developed numerous programs for area high schools and teach the alcohol and drug units of tenth grade health classes. Recently, we have expanded these to include a safe driving component. We also host forums for parents and other community members to come together to discuss underage drinking and to develop strategies for dealing with the problem.
- Q. Have other jurisdictions shown interest in your program?
- A. (Officer Morrison): Our controlled dispersal program has been very successful and we are constantly asked by police departments from across the country to come to provide training. Recently, we even had a request from South Africa to come and train their officers.
We Don’t Serve Teens recently sat down with Captain Thomas Didone and Officer William Morrison of the Montgomery County, MD police department’s Alcohol Unit.
Don't serve alcohol to teens.
It's unsafe. It's illegal. It's irresponsible.