By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 at 7:26 am in Teens.
Partying Contra Costa teens could land their parents in jail and with a steep fine if county officials pass a new ordinance today. The social host ordinance would charge parents with a misdemeanor if hosting a party for an underage child in which three or more people under age 21 are drinking. The punishment is steep: up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. (Read more in Matthias Gafni’s article.) That’s a major climb from the current $200 fine and no jail time. And even parents not in the know about their kids’ partying ways will find themselves on the hook.
Frankly, it’s high time someone got serious about this. According to 2007 California Healthy Kids Survey, 41 percent of Contra Costa 11th graders reported drinking in the past 30 days. What’s more staggering is the number of teens who drink and host parties with alcohol in which their parents turn a blind eye. Hey, I get it. My high school years were spent in Germany, where the drinking age started when you were tall enough to reach the bar. Despite that, my parents never hosted teen parties with alcohol, and my sister, brother and I lived with tangible threats — no car keys, no college — if we tried to do this behind their backs. The I-didn’t-know excuse doesn’t fly anymore; like it or not, parents don’t get to check out just because their kids have become teenagers.