Many times we hear adults say ‘I want to keep my child safe. As long as they aren’t driving, I’ll allow them to drink at my house where I can keep an eye on them’. While this sentiment is heartfelt, it is illegal. Social hosting is not a new trend. It has been happening in all communities for years with very little consequence.
Social hosting in Alabama refers to adults who host parties where alcohol is served on property they control, knowingly allowing an underage person to use alcohol or a controlled substance, and/or fails to take reasonable action to prevent an underage person from possessing or using alcohol or a controlled substance. Through social host liability laws, adults can be held responsible for these parties if underage people are served, regardless of who furnishes the alcohol.
In data obtained through surveys, East Alabama Mental Health Prevention Services found nearly 68% of 9th through 12th graders in Tallapoosa County obtain alcohol from a friend’s home and 78% stated they would obtain alcohol from a family member or friend who is over the age of 21. 32% of adults in Tallapoosa County report incidences of adults serving alcohol to minors. Less than half of the adults indicated they would report knowledge of social hosting to local law enforcement. Over half of the adults indicated parents can be more effective in preventing underage drinking by talking with their children and setting better examples.
Not only do parents influence the decisions adolescents and youth make; the environment’s adolescents are in, the music they listen to, and the television they watch has major influences in a child’s life. On average a person age 12-20 is exposed to 400 alcohol advertisements in a given year with 69% of the ads showing on television and 30% on social media and other websites. Many people think underage youth are drinking beer and wine coolers however, on average, underage females are drinking malt liquor and vodka while underage males are drinking whiskey, vodka, and rum. Tallapoosa County needs to take the stand for our youth and show we care by refusing to provide alcohol to our underage citizens. Let’s create a safe environment for our youth to grow and thrive without the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. It’s easy to come home and pour a glass of wine or open a bottle of beer and forget about your workday but next time you do, look around to see who might be watching. Is that the habit you want your children to learn from you?
For more information about on ways you can make a change in your community, join Tallapoosa County CARES Coalition. We meet monthly to address underage drinking in Tallapoosa County and ways to spread education throughout the community about the dangers and consequences of alcohol in youth. If interested in attending a meeting and learning more about ways to become involved contact Prevention Services at 334-742-2112.