Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
APRIL 29, 2010 -Spring is here and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) warns parents of the dangers of underage drinking during the prom and graduation open house celebration season.
The Liquor Control Commission has seen a decline in the number of sales to minors by licensees, however parents may be surprised to learn that family and friends are the number one source for alcohol provided to their teens.
"Parents need to be aware that 65 percent of minors get their alcohol from friends and family - not from retailers," said MLCC Chairperson Nida R. Samona. "Spring is a time of celebration for our high school students and the prom and open house season make it even more tempting and easier for kids to consume alcohol. Parents and other family members need to be aware that they face severe consequences for providing alcohol to minors, not to mention the fact they are endangering the lives of the kids they love."
Research clearly shows that underage drinking has very serious and sometimes deadly consequences. Besides the more obvious dangers such as auto accidents and alcohol poisoning, these risks include increased assaults, vandalism, homicides, suicides, teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
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 booze 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. And, 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," said Samona. "We want people to know the ramifications of providing alcohol to a minor are severe and definitely not a risk worth taking."
Samona, who is a mom herself, said that parents need to talk to their kids about these risks and to reinforce that underage drinking is not to be condoned or tolerated.
"The MLCC protects consumer's health and safety through enforcement of state law, but we also need our parents to help us keep kids safe," said Samona. "Sixty-eight percent of young people say that their parents are the leading influence of whether they drink or not. It's important for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of alcohol and to let them know they disapprove of underage drinking. Sometimes it may feel like they aren't listening to what you have to say but studies show they are hearing you."
If you need some help about how to address this topic, The Century Council (a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers) offers many resources in English and Spanish including its "Girl Talk" and "Stop. Listen. Learn" initiatives at http://www.centurycouncil.org/. The materials will help parents, teachers, coaches, and school administrators to talk to kids about alcohol and help them make the right choices. The direct link to materials is https://www.responsibility.org/.
For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara
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