Prom season is finally here. Parents may think that supervised drinking at prom parties will keep their kids safe and out of trouble. Your intentions may be good, but underage drinking is illegal.
While it may seem harmless, providing alcohol to a minor is a class A misdemeanor with serious legal consequences. In all 50 states, the minimum drinking age is 21. In Tennessee, parents can spend up to 11 months and 29 days in jail for providing alcohol to a minor.
Tennessee’s social host liability law states it is illegal for a parent or guardian to knowingly allow an underage person to buy or possess alcohol. Social host liability is a legal term meaning the adult can be held legally responsible if they provide alcohol to a minor. Other possible consequences include community service, loss of license and fines up to $2,500.
Parents often believe that allowing teens to drink at home is safer because they can control the amount of alcohol being consumed. Parents may also think that if they model responsible, moderate drinking to their teen, their child will mimic that behavior when parents are not present. However, teens that drink with their parents are more likely to drink when they are outside the home and vice-versa. They also tend to consume more alcoholic beverages on average than peers who do not drink with their parents.
Safe party tips
You can protect your children by following these guidelines when hosting teen parties:
- Host safe, alcohol-free activities and events for youth
- Refuse to supply alcohol to children or allow drinking in your home or on your property
- Be at home when your teenager has a party
- Make sure your teenager’s friends do not bring alcohol into your home
- Talk to other parents about not providing alcohol at youth events
- Report underage drinking
If your teen is heading to a post-graduation or prom party, find out where they are going and who they will be with. Call the hosting parents and share your rules and expectations. Make sure adult supervision will be available to ensure the party remains alcohol-free.
Message to Teens
In the age of social networking and text messaging, photos are uploaded in seconds and videos are streamed live for the entire world to see. It is important to ask yourself, “If pictures of this party pop up on Facebook, will I be humiliated?” If the answer is yes, chances are this is a decision you will soon regret. Just one drink can lower your inhibitions, and in our world of digital connectedness, dangerous and embarrassing activities may be photographed, uploaded, texted about and shared with friends. These images now serve as a permanent reminder of a night you would probably rather forget.
Parents, protect yourself and your kids. You don’t always have to be the life of the party- Be a Parent. Not a peer.