The following is a letter from North Kingstown Superintendent Phil Auger to families and parents in town.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
In light of the recent social hosting matters in the news, I thought it might be a good time to resend this message regarding underage drinking parties and the social host law, as it is still relevant.
Recent incidences of parties involving underage alcohol use have compelled the prevention and enforcement entities in Rhode Island to create the following statement to address steps parents can take to prevent future tragedies. We all have a role to play in keeping our youth safe and healthy.
Hosting a safe party for youths is more complicated than in years past. Parties communicated via social media can grow large and unmanageable in a short period of time. All parents need to be armed with the facts to ensure safe gatherings.
For teens that choose to use illegal substances, the consequences go far beyond fatal car crashes. Unintended or unwelcome sexual activity, verbal and physical violence, vandalism, and suicide all occur more frequently when illegal substances impair a youth’s brain. Alcohol poisoning and drug overdose can have fatal consequences. Furthermore, the earlier youths begin using alcohol or other drugs, the more likely they are to become dependent or addicted.
What adults say and do does matter. Two thirds of youth ages 13-17 say losing their parents’ respect is one of the main reasons they don’t use illegal substances. Furthermore, youths who believe that their parents would strongly disapprove of youth drug use have rates of use that are 80% lower than those whose parents would not strongly disapprove.
Before your youth hosts a gathering or party, please be aware of the following to protect yourself and what you value. See the attached list for further guidance.
■ RI law prohibits adults from knowingly permitting anyone under 21 from consuming alcohol on his/her property. Penalties include fines up to $1000, community service and jail time.
■ If you become aware that minors are consuming alcohol, using marijuana or have other illegal drugs on your property, call the police to report this illegal activity. Likewise, if you hear of a party to take place that will involve these activities, call the police. If you wait or don’t call the police, you may be responsible for the consequences, which could include legal charges, loss of life, property damage or any of the other tragic outcomes mentioned above that can result from underage alcohol and other drug use.
■ Secure all alcohol, over the counter and prescription drugs before the party starts. Most youth get alcohol and prescription drugs from their own homes. Don’t make it easy for youth to obtain substances that are illegal and harmful to them.
By working together, we can all help to insure that our children stay safe and healthy.
Phil Auger, Ph.D.
Superintendent of North Kingstown Schools
100 Fairway Drive
North Kingstown, RI 02852