PWH logoBy Carol Hopp |

Parents play a major role in their children’s choices about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. In a survey to parents and teens from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, one-third of teen party-goers have been to parties where teens were drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or using cocaine, ecstasy, or prescription drugs while a parent was present.

The local coalitions have partnered with Drug Free Action Alliance to reinforce our community message that underage drinking is unsafe, unhealthy and unacceptable.

But, I’m there to monitor the party…

FACT: As a parent, you cannot provide alcohol to your teen’s friends under the age of 21 under any circumstances, even in your own home, even with their parent’s permission. You also cannot allow a person under 18, other than your own child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or possessing alcohol. You will face legal consequences if you do. Based on Iowa’s Social Host Law, you can be charged criminally and be punished with a $200 fine for the first offense.

It is imperative for parents to be aware of the potential dangers that accompany alcohol-fueled gatherings. The Center for Disease Control reports that underage drinking results in 4,300 deaths each year. It’s important to remember that simply taking away the car keys does not solve problems related to underage drinking.  Parents must proactively take measures to ensure gatherings are fun, yet safe and drug-free for their kids.

Ideas for parents (and teens) planning teen parties:

  • Create a party plan, including a guest list, with your teen.
  • Invite just the friends on your list and let them know in advance the party is ‘invitation only.’
  • Let party guests know that if they leave, they cannot come back.
  • Plan some activities such as music, games, movies, etc.
  • Make regular and discreet visits to the party area with sensitivity to teens’ needs for privacy.
  • Have a plan in place if alcohol shows up at the party and act on that plan.

 If your teen is attending a party:

  • Know where your child will be. Call the parent in charge to verify the location of the party. Ensure there will be adult supervision and that the host will not be serving or allowing alcohol.
  • Set a curfew for your teen to be home. When they arrive home, have them check in with you.
  • Know how your child is getting to and from the party.  Reinforce the message to your teenager that he/she should never allow someone who has been drinking to drive them anywhere.
  • Let your teen know you trust him or her, and explain why you are concerned about underage drinking.

For additional information, about Iowa’s Social Host Law or the local prevention coalitions contact Carol Hopp. You can also visit for more details on the new Iowa Social Host Law.

Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don’t be a party to teenage drinking® is a registered trademark of Drug Free Alliance and is used with permission.

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