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Parents: Help Graduates Celebrate Alcohol-Free

Family Service of Morris County offers tips.

As the school year comes to an end and high school graduations are occurring, parents need to be mindful of the responsibilities that come along with hosting a graduation party. Many high school seniors will either want to have a party or will be attending parties for their classmates and friends. You, as a parent, will want to ensure that underage drinking does not take place.

Adults can be sued for damages and injuries to minors and subject to municipal fines and court appearances, not to mention the potential of 30 days of jail time. 

Aside from the legal ramifications and liabilities to parents who permit underage alcohol consumption, there are consequences for teenagers who host a party, such as loss or postponement of a driver’s license, fines and community service.

So how can a parent prevent underage drinking at graduation parties? Begin with an earnest conversation with your teen about attending and hosting parties, and what to do if alcohol is served, or smuggled in by other teens. You may use a reward system, have them sign a pact and explain the consequences of what may transpire as a result of underage drinking.  

Have conversations with other parents to ensure alliance. If all parents are on the same page, it is less likely that other parents will acquiesce to their child’s request to have alcohol at parties.

If you are hosting, perhaps consider an afternoon gathering. The adult attendees will not mind the absence of alcoholic beverages. However, keep in mind that even with an afternoon party you must still be vigilant of teens smuggling drinks in backpacks, bags and water bottles. Advise underage guests that they may not bring any beverages to the party.

Despite all your efforts to curtail underage alcohol consumption, you may be faced with the unfortunate situation in which a teen does consume alcohol. If this occurs, do not transport a teen that is under the influence anywhere. Instead, call 911 immediately and notify the parents.  

High School Graduation is a milestone in your teen’s life journey, and you want them to celebrate their success. To ensure that they are safe as they celebrate, you may consider these final tips:

  • Know who will be attending the party.  
  • Limit the number of attendees. Ensure that there is not an “open” Facebook invite to your teen’s 850 “friends."  
  • Be a presence at the party. Do not just be in the house, but be involved in the celebration.
  • Let it be known that there will be zero tolerance for alcohol at the party. If there is any found, then the party will end.

For further tips, go to “Parents Who Host Lose the Most” website:  

 http://www.drugfreeactionalliance.org/pwh.php

Sylvia Lippe is the director of Addiction Service and Community Programs at . For more information on FSMC and its programs, see www.fsmc.org or contact Sylvia at slippe@fsmc.org or 973-538-5260 x 141. 

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