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Commentary: Don’t Sponsor Alcohol Parties for Minors
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Commentary: Don’t Sponsor Alcohol Parties for Minors

The holidays are a time for celebration. And as our teenagers progress through high school, there are a series of celebratory events – prom, graduation, the last football game or track meet, etc. How families celebrate at home is their own business. But when others outside the home are involved, it can become the community's interest. That is the case with serving alcohol to minors.

If you are holding parties for youth outside of your family in your home, or allowing your children to do so, and alcohol is being served to youth under the age of 21, then you are breaking the law. More importantly, you are endangering young lives.

Please stop. If you don't, the county will stop you. At my motion, the Board of Supervisors unanimously directed our Police Department to arrest parents who host for minors parties where alcohol is served. We care about our kids.

The adolescent brain is still developing its ability to engage in reasoned thought. When alcohol is introduced, the brain's reasoning capability is further reduced. This is why youth who drink alcohol are even more susceptible to risky behaviors and peer pressure.

At its worst, teen drinking can result in drunk driving, assault, drug use, teen pregnancy, injury, or even death. When parents provide youth with alcohol, they are directly endangering the lives of those youth who drink.

Serving alcohol to youth is also a missed opportunity to set a good example.

The 2016 Fairfax County Youth Survey shows that 93 percent of teens do not drink alcohol when their parents clearly conveyed their belief that it was very wrong to drink underage. But when teens thought their parents were ok with underage drinking, then 53 percent did drink.

Our kids may not listen to us, but they do watch us and learn from us. We should all be positive role models for the youth in our community, both in our homes and outside.

Why do some parents serve alcohol to their children's friends? Some believe it strengthens their bonds to their own children. Others believe it will make their kids more popular. Some may believe it makes them (as parents) more popular with kids. Others believe that kids will drink anyway, so it would be better if they did so under some sort of supervision.

To be blunt, none of these reasons is a good reason. There are far more constructive ways to be popular than to serve alcohol, and adults, especially parents, have an additional responsibility to be good role models.

I strongly support the parents' organization "Parents Who Host Lost the Most." Parents who serve alcohol to other kids need to be held accountable.

Every year some youth in our county die needlessly, or are badly injured or otherwise subject to harmful results, due to drinking alcohol. Let's join together to help our kids stay safe. And for those who don't wish to join us, please know our police department will be out looking for you. Don't serve alcohol to minors.