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Parents who host can lose the most

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crime and courts River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

"Parents Who Host Lose the Most: Don't be a Party to Underage Drinking" is the slogan being used nationwide this spring to alert families to the risks and dangers of underage drinking.

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Locally, Youth Action Hudson is participating in this program from the Drug-Free Action Alliance as well partnering with the St. Croix County Underage Drinking Coalition and area law enforcement to raise awareness about the pitfalls of allowing minors to drink at so-called "home parties."

John Oman, YAH's youth program director, said, "With graduation and summer coming up, the issue of teen drinking should be on people's minds. And while some parents might think they are doing the right thing by allowing their kids and their friends to drink in the safety of their home, there are real risks, both physically and legally."

One of the reasons given by parents for hosting the at-home parties where they take car keys is that it will prevent the teens from drinking and driving, making the party "safe."

But North Hudson Police Chief Mark Richert points out that drunk driving is not the only risk associated with underage drinking. It puts teens at risk for sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases and injury from fights and violence as well as the risk of property damage should the party get out of control.

Richert said adults who purchase, pour or provide alcohol for underage drinkers can be held both criminally and civilly liable for any injury or resulting damages that a young guest incurs under state law.

"Parents may think they can control these parties and the kids at them, but they can't. It is hard enough to control what kids do when they are sober, but when you add in alcohol, it becomes even more difficult and more dangerous. Peer pressure to drink excessively, drinking games and fear of getting help when something goes wrong can all have disastrous consequences all while they are 'safely' under your roof," said Richert.

Oman also hopes parents "who don't host" will take notice as well.

"It is important that you talk to your kids about this issue and that you know as much as possible about what goes on at the parties they are attending." He adds that along with communicating with their children, parents need to talk to other parents about these parties and what they expect when it comes to alcohol and supervision.

YAH and the St. Croix County Underage Drinking Coalition also conduct regular age compliance checks at area restaurants, bars and businesses. Material and more information about Parents Who Host Lose the Most is available through Youth Action Hudson at (715) 386-9803 or www.youthactionhudson.org.

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