With graduation right around the corner there will be parties. And with parties, alcohol could be introduced to underage kids, either by friends or even by parents hosting the gathering.
Underage drinking is a nation-wide problem and yes we are at risk right here in our own backyard.
“I was asked is there an underage drinking issue in our community. I can say with evidence we are supported to be a high risk community,” Teen Court Coordinator and Prevention Specialist Casey Rowland said. “With this evidence, we have services and education in place to assist this need in our community.”
With the help and support of Great Bend Police Department, Rowland said there is an increased law enforcement presence which offers positive education to minors.
Juvenile Services and the Alcohol Prevention Task Force of Central Kansas Partnership community members are addressing the underage drinking of our youth in our community, she said.
“We support the statewide ‘IT MATTERS’ campaign, and with this support you may have seen and heard the ‘Kiss It Goodbye’ billboards, radio broadcasts and short commercials prior to the new movie your friends and family may have recently seen,” Rowland said.
The “Kiss It Goodbye” campaign is designed to help prevent underage drinking and to get the word out about this problem.
According to Rowland, recently, the Juvenile services along with the help of GBPD conducted controlled buys.
The first was conducted over 25 alcohol vendors, and out of the 25 vendors, five of them sold to underage persons.
A Retail Beverage Sales and Service class was conducted by GBPD and Juvenile Services with support of Central Kansas Partnership.
These classes attracted more than 16 vendor owners, and their employees to learn about the laws and consequences of selling to underage persons.
Months after another controlled buy was conducted over 20 alcohol vendors, and out of those 20, none sold to underage persons.
Even though this second controlled buy showed that these venders did not sell to any underage people, the problem still is there.
“We still have 13 to 17 year olds getting arrested for minor in consumption, and minor in possession of alcohol. This is where the issues come back home.” Rowland said.
Social Hosting is the unlawfully hosting of a party and serving alcohol to minors.
It is intentionally or recklessly permitting a person’s residence or any land, building, structure or room owned, occupied or procured by such person to be used by an invitee of such person or an invitee of such person’s child or ward, in a manner that results in the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverage.
Kansas has a “social hosting” law. So not only is it against the law to furnish alcohol to minors, it’s illegal to provide a place for them to drink.
Both are Class A misdemeanors.
Kansas law prohibits:
1. Hosting minors who are drinking. On any property you own or rent. You don’t have to provide the alcohol or even be there.
• Minimum $7,000 fine, community service and up to one year in jail.
In addition: If one allows teens to drink on their property, they can be held responsible - criminally or civilly - for mistakes those teens make, even after they’ve left their property.
One can even be charged with operating an open saloon if your guests pay for alcohol.
2. Furnishing alcohol to minors. That means selling to, buying for or giving it to anyone under 21.
• Minimum $200 fine. In one Kansas case, two individuals charged with furnishing alcohol to minors each received fines in excess of $6,000.
According to teenthinking.org, underage drinking has real, serious consequences for teens and it affects families and communities.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to raise safe kids.
Parents are the number one influence on young people’s attitudes and decisions about alcohol.
What we say and do has a big impact. That means:
• Staying involved and on top of what our kids are doing.
• Being a parent, not a pal.
• Setting a good example.
• Never providing alcohol or hosting drinking parties.
Why do we need social hosting laws?
To help keep our kids, and our communities, safe. We all know about the dangers of drunk driving.
Every year, nearly 2,000 people die in crashes where alcohol was a factor.
Many of us have been personally affected by these tragedies.
But car collisions are just one concern. We know more and more about the dangers and risks of underage drinking.
• Alcohol is seriously harmful to the brain until at least age 25.
• 96 percent of adult alcoholics began drinking before they were 21.
• Alcohol can disrupt normal growth and sexual development.
• Young people’s judgment is severely affected by alcohol, leading to risky behavior.
• Youth who drink are more likely to be victims of crime.
• Alcohol contributes to unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sex.
• Underage drinking is a major cause of death from injuries among young people.
What can parents and other adults do?
• Talk early and often with your kids about the risks and harm caused by underage drinking.
• Make sure kids and adults alike know what the law says about alcohol and minors, and social hosting.
• Don’t condone underage drinking. Never host parties or provide alcohol.
• Be a role model. Get involved. Positive activities reduce risky behaviors.
There are many terrific resources online for parents: tips for talking to your kids, insight into the teen mind, research on alcohol use and how it affects teens and much more.
Some sites to start with:
• aantidroga.com (Spanish)
Talking about alcohol
According to Rowland, the first step in talking with your teen about alcohol is simply getting started. Often, the conversation takes more than one sitting and evolves over time.
As a parent, you must take active steps to start this conversation.
Suggest to your teen that you would like to talk. Don’t expect the teen to agree. In fact, many teens respond negatively.
Teens are often tired after a school day or athletic event, and that may not be the best time to start a conversation. Think about your teen’s schedule and how you can create a time where you will have his or her undivided attention.
Perhaps take him or her out to a quiet dinner or someplace where you can comfortably start a “one-on-one” conversation.
Starting the conversation
Say something to show you are open-minded, then ask your teen about his or her own experiences.
Use thought-provoking questions that can be asked in a supportive, non-threatening way.
Do you know kids who drink?
How has it affected them?
Have you ever been offered alcohol by someone you knew?
If so, what did you say?
If not, what would you say?
What if someone really pushed you?
Do you see any risks?
Do you have any concerns?
In the end
• Begin talking together about alcohol.
• Listen to your teen’s concerns respectfully, and use positive parenting techniques.
• Set clear no-alcohol use rules,and agree on appropriate consequences for breaking these rules.
• Enforce consequences when the rules are broken.
• Discuss short-term and long-term risks of underage alcohol use.
•·Help your teen plan how to deal with social pressure to drink alcohol.
• Keep track of where your teen is,and with whom.
• Make sure your teen is in a supervised, alcohol-free environment.
•·Work with other parents and community leaders to make and enforce policies that keep alcohol away from underage youth.
•·Support the 21 Minimum Drinking Age law.