With graduation around the corner, there will be plenty of well-deserved parties hosted by proud families. How many others will take place without adult supervision?
As they have grown up, our students have been well-versed in what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior and the consequences of their decisions. They have learned this in school, at church, on their teams, and from the many organizations in which students become involved.
We have organizations such as the Trackside Teen Center, which offers an alcohol- and substance-free gathering place for students, and Safe Rides, which offers exactly that, a safe ride home to students who can’t safely get home on a weekend night.
While all — teachers, counselors, coaches, clergy, and others — may be excellent role models, none take the place of parents. They are the only ones who have control over what happens at home. Unfortunately, too often home parties with illegal behavior still occur.
They will not stop until parents prevent them or break the parties up as soon as they learn of them. Parents would be wise to remember there is a state law on hosting parties that was put on the books five years ago. Consequences can be severe.
Connecticut statute 12-199 reads, “No person having possession of, or exercising dominion and control over, any dwelling unit or private property shall (1) knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, permit any minor to possess alcoholic liquor … in such dwelling unit or on such private property, or (2) [knowing that any minor possesses alcoholic liquor … in such dwelling unit or on such private property] fail to make reasonable efforts to halt such possession. For the purposes of this subsection, ‘minor’ means a person under twenty-one years of age.”
Perhaps there are some parents who believe the law should not be enforced — after all, youth parties at home have been going on for longer than today’s parents have been alive. Perhaps some parents enjoyed them as young people themselves, or perhaps they believe allowing teenagers to drink or smoke pot on their property makes the kids safer. Some parents believe if they take the kids’ car keys they’ve done their due diligence.
They haven’t.
Deep down, parents know what is right and what is wrong. They need the courage to enforce “the law” and not wait for the police to do it. They are the ones who are accountable.