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Ohio's Social Host Law

37% of students who reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days said they got it from a parent, and teens overwhelmingly report that they most often drink at house parties. Alcohol may seem harmless in comparison to other drugs, but underage drinking comes with risks, not only for the underage drinker, but for the hosting parent too. 

Do you know about Ohio's Social Host Law? 

The law states, “No person who is the owner or occupant of any public or private place shall knowingly allow any underage person to remain in or on the premises while possessing or consuming beer or intoxicating liquor, unless the intoxicating liquor or beer is given to the person possessing or consuming it by that person’s parent, spouse who is not an underage person, or legal guardian, unless the parent, spouse who is not an underage person, or legal guardian is present at the time of the person’s possession or consumption of the beer or intoxicating liquor.”        

In other words, parents who provide alcohol to their teen’s friends, or even just allow it, even in their own homes, are breaking the law. And the penality can be stiff. 

 

What parents should know: 

  • As a parent, you cannot give alcohol to your teen's friends under the age of 21 under any circumstance, even in your own home, even with their parent's permission. 
  • You cannot knowlingly allow a person under 21, other than your own child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or posessing alcohol. 

If you break the law: 

  • You can face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1000 fine. 
  • Others can sue you if you give alcohol to anyone under 21, and they, in turn, hurt someone, hurt themselves or damage property. 
  • Officers can take any alcohol, money or property used in committing the offense. 

Things you can do as a parent: 

  • Refuse to supply alcohol to anyone under 21. 
  • Be at home when your teen has a party. 
  • Make sure that alcohol is not brought into your home or property by your teen's friends. 
  • Talk to other parents about not providing alcohol at other events your child will be attending. 
  • Create alcohol-free opportunities and activities in your home so teens will feel welcome. 
  • Report underage drinking to local law enforcement. 

Parents who host

Alcohol is the Most Abused Drug

You may not be surprised that teens report using alcohol more than any other substance. What might be startling however is how the numbers differ by grade, and how rapidly rates of use increase between middle school and high school.

Of the 7th, 9th, and 11th grade students who responded to the 2014 Union County Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 17% reported using alcohol in the past 30 days, compared to 11% who had used tobacco, and 9% who had used marijuana.

In Union County, 5.8% of students in the 7th grade reported drinking alcohol in the past month compared to 20% of students in 9th grade and 24.8% of students in 11th grade during the same time period.

 

Here's what teens in Union County say about alcohol

  • Underage drinking happens more frequently on weekends
  • Teens are drinking in private homes, sometimes with a parent’s consent
  • Most teens are given the alcohol they drink, often by a friend (42%) or from a parent (37%) 
  • Most students report drinking beer and hard liquor

 

Parental Influence

There is a disparity between how much influence parents think they have on their teen's choices and how much influence they actually have. In fact, a 2013 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 1 in 5 parents of teenagers believe they have little to no influence on their teen's choices with drugs and aclohol. According to the 2014 YRBS, 42% of students reported their parent or caregiver never or seldom talks to them about drugs and alcohol. But teens report that their parents have a greater influence than most parents think. 

Take Time To Talk

Being a parent is intensely rewarding, but also challenging. Parents work to keep their kids safe and healthy while helping them grow into independent, well-adjusted young adults.  The Union County Drug Free Youth Coalition wants to remind parents that nationally 74% of youth indicate that their parents are the biggest influence on their child’s decision about using substances.  Take the time to talk to your child and engage them in conversations about your expectations and their understanding of substance use.  Here are some key ideas:

Maintain Limits

Respect teens’ urge for independence while setting limits.  It is important to set clear rules and expectations around substance use.  Discuss your family’s rules and agree on the consequences for breaking the rules.

Listen 

Resist the temptation to tell your teen how to react.  Listen to what they tell you about what other teens are doing. It is a good indication of the choices teens face.  Hear their concerns and offer clear-headed guidance. 

Empower Choices 

Encourage teens to make their own choices, even relatively minor ones, as often as you can.  This gives the message that you are allowing your teen to make choices and helps them practice making good choices.

Monitor Daily

Know where your teen is and let them know you are asking out of love not lack of trust. Check in often. Know their friends personally. 

 

More Resources to Help You Start Talking

 

talk they hear you

Talk. They Hear You. is an underage drinking prevention program from SAMHSA, providing free resources to help you start - and keep up - the conversation about the dangers of drinking alcohol at a young age

 

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Power Talk 21 is a program from MADD offering free resources including a parent handbook for talking with your kids about underage drinking

 

KNOW Link

The Know! drug prevention and awareness program from Drug Free Action Alliance targets parents and caregivers of middle school students and empowers them to raise their children substance-free with a twice monthly electronic newsletter about current drug trends and other hot topics.