WOODLAND PARK, NJ -  On May 23 at 7 p.m. prior to the Home & School meeting at Memorial School, the Woodland Park Municipal Alliance will host "Parents Who Host Lose The Most.' All are welcome.

Guest speaker Marianne Edmond from United for Prevention will present this educational program about the health and safety risks of serving alcohol at teen parties during this celebratory time of the year for youth with proms and graduations.

The legal drinking age in New Jersey for consumption of an alcoholic beverage is 21 years of age.  Purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol prior to your 21st birthday is a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties associated with this offense are six months imprisonment or a $1,000 fine or both.  Not only can a minor be charged with possession of alcohol, other minors who are present can also be charged (whether they were drinking alcohol or not drinking).

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In addition, adults that allow minors to drink at their residence or on their property can also be charged. Parents who knowingly allow a person under the age of 21 to remain on their property while consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages can be prosecuted and face jail sentencing, fines and/or loss of property.

Don’t be misled by the plea: “But other parents let their kids do it” or the mistaken belief that if your kids (and their friends) drink at home that they are safe.  Adults providing alcohol to underage youth send a mixed message and can only add to a teenager’s confusion about the acceptability of drinking.  They are also sending the message to teens that they do not have to obey the law.  Research shows that most teenagers appreciate it when their parents set boundaries and establish expectations that are fairly enforced.

Parents and guardians who will be hosting holiday parties are urged to think ahead and be safe this season. Here are a few holiday party tips for parents:

  • Set clear, firm, and consistent family rules about teen drinking. Although this should be a part of the family rules at all times, holiday parties present an opportunity to remind your child, prior to a party, that he or she is absolutely prohibited from drinking and using illegal substances.
  • Be a model for responsible behavior. Parents and guardians are the most important role models for their children. If you use alcohol, set a good example and drink responsibly. Also, have a plan for those who drink too much and make sure your guests do not drink and drive.
  • Be aware of how your attitudes and behavior toward underage drinking also influence your child. Avoid making jokes about underage drinking or drunkenness, or otherwise showing acceptance of underage alcohol use.
  • If you are hosting a party, offer delicious, attractive non-alcoholic drinks. If you are serving alcohol, monitor the supply and keep it within your sight. Do not keep alcohol somewhere easily accessible by your teen and keep your liquor cabinets locked.
  • Connect with the parents and caregivers of the teen’s friends and join our Safe Homes program. Getting to know other parents and guardians can help you stay connected with what is going on in your child’s life. Having a friendly rapport can also make it easier for you to call the parent/caregiver of a teen who is having a party to be sure that a responsible adult will be present and that alcohol will not be available.
  • Keep track of your child’s activities. Be aware of your teen’s plans and whereabouts. Typically, your child will be more open to your supervision if he or she feels you are keeping tabs because you care, not because you distrust him or her.
  • And finally, never serve alcohol to your child’s underage friends. Underage drinking is illegal.

Parents Who Host Lose the Most is a national campaign of the Drug Free Action Alliance. For more information on this program go to https://www.drugfreeactionalliance.org/parents-who-host.