Much of the focus around underage drinking is around graduation or prom night, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving say in their latest newsletter that the night before Thanksgiving is the biggest night for underage drinking.
"Thanksgiving-Eve Night–the night before Thanksgiving–is the biggest night for underage drinking, even more than graduation or prom night," says the November newsletter. "The fridge and the liquor cabinets are stocked, parents are distracted by relatives and dinner preparations, and older siblings or college-age friends are around."
MADD has a recommendation: "Refresh yourself on Connecticut’s laws in regards to underage drinking and house parties. An underage drinking “house party” is a gathering of two or more people in a home or on private property where youth under 21 years of age possess and consume alcohol."
Start thinking now about how you're going to talk with your kids
Catherine LeVasseur, the coalition coordinator for the Madison Alcohol and Drug Education coalition, says parents should start thinking now about how they're going to talk about this with their kids. She recommends parents review the PDF posted with this article, A Parent Action Guide from The Governor’s Prevention Partnership. "The guide helps walk parents through talking to their kids (at different ages) and helps break down some of the myths," she says.
"It’s a challenging time of year because for most college freshmen this is their first time home since going off to school. It’s a chance for them to get together with old friends," LeVasseur says. "For this particular time of year I think it’s important to stress the social host law and the consequences surrounding it. I think it’s important for parents and youth to know that they can both be charged for allowing minors to possess alcohol on private property."
LeVasseur also said there is a misconception that providing the alcohol is punishable by the same statute (resulting in a $146 fine) but allowing minors to drink (hosting) and providing the alcohol are two very different things. "Providing alcohol to a minor has always been a felony and can result in fines up to $1,500 up to 18 months in jail, or both. Also for any minor caught possessing alcohol they are going to face a $136 fine and a suspension of their driver’s license."
Tips for parents
LeVasseur says the best tips for parents are to:
- Talk to your kids about the seriousness of underage drinking
- Set clear rules
- Plan for family activities over Thanksgiving weekend (including Wednesday night)
- Educate your kids about the law
- Know where they are
- Offer to “host” a safe party at your house so you can monitor what they are doing
The MADD newsletter says "61% of Connecticut youth report in surveys that they drink at “house parties,” and that 77% of high school students report obtaining alcohol at home, with or without parental permission."
"In Connecticut it is ILLEGAL to host a party where alcohol is consumed by minors," the newsletter adds. "Parents need to be parents, and allowing alcohol parties at home sends a mixed message. It also teaches them that they can break the law. If youth drink at home, then they are drinking other places that they may not be supervised as well."