“During this time of celebration, it’s tempting for our high school students to consume alcohol, especially when they missed out on these memorable events last year with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. “Parents and other family members also need to be aware that they face severe consequences if they provide alcohol to minors, along with the fact they are endangering the lives of the kids they love.”
Parents may be surprised to learn that family and friends are the primary source for alcohol provided to their teens. In Michigan, those who supply alcohol to minors face serious penalties no matter if they are a parent, older sibling, aunt, uncle, acquaintance, or a stranger off the street who agrees to buy the alcohol for a fee. Michigan law makes it a crime for any person to sell or furnish alcohol to a minor with a $1,000 fine and up to 60 days in jail for a first-time conviction. If a minor dies as a result of alcohol consumption — whether it’s alcohol poisoning, drowning, fall or traffic accident — the person who supplied the alcohol to that minor faces imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.
“The MLCC protects consumer’s health and safety through enforcement of state law, but we also need parents to help us keep kids safe,” said Gagliardi. “Parents have a huge impact on their kids in educating them that drinking alcohol by anyone under age 21 is illegal, unsafe and unhealthy and can negatively impact their future in so many ways.”
Tips for parents:
— Discuss the dangers of underage drinking, binge drinking and alcohol poisoning, drinking and driving, and getting into a car with a drunk driver.
— Talk with your kids about making good choices; being responsible by saying “no” to alcohol and choosing not to drink amidst peer pressure.
— Emphasize how alcohol can permanently impair a teen’s intellectual development and memory, as their brain is still growing.
— Affirm that drinking alcohol is never the way to deal with stress, problems or to feel socially acceptable.
— Be a good role model and lead by example to inspire your children to make healthy decisions.
— Stay connected with your kids and establish trust.
Resources for parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of underage drinking:
— Foundation of Advancing Alcohol Responsibility: Responsibility.org; Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix.
— National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol – Parents | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov).
— Family Education: The Senior Prom and Drinking: How to Start a Conversation – FamilyEducation.
— Michigan Coalition for the Reduction in Underage Drinking: mcrud.org.