Far too often we read a heartbreaking story of a tragedy involving underage drinking, and more often than not the source of alcohol for these youth is their family or friends. For nearly 20 years, The Century Council has been addressing the issue of adults providing alcohol to youth through stiffer penalties and tougher social host laws.
Medheadlines, a website that publishes articles on important medical news and other health information, recently posted an article that dealt with social host laws. "Social Hosting Laws Incriminate Parents of Underage Drinkers," mentions many important issues involving this very important component to stopping underage drinking. In 2006, The Century Council joined the Federal Trade Commission and other national organizations to launch a public awareness campaign to stop underage drinking. This initiative called "We Don't Serve Teens," is designed to inform adults that providing youth with alcohol is unsafe, illegal, and irresponsible. What this program showed was that overwhelmingly, parents, do not believe it is acceptable for other adults to provide beverage alcohol to underage youth. In a commissioned survey, ninety-six percent of adults said it is unacceptable for another parent or other adult to provide alcohol to their teenager without their permission. A significant percentage of parents said they would contact the police, file charges against the other parent, or take similar action if they discovered their child was being given access to alcohol.
The Century Council supports license suspension penalties, mandatory community service, fines, and graduated penalties for repeat offenders who furnish alcohol to minors. Working to restrict access to alcohol by those under the legal purchase age is everyone's goal, but to achieve success, we must all take action together and work to change the perception that the underage consumption of alcohol is a rite of passage.