When you think about teenagers and the major decisions that are put into their paths, one of the most important choices that each of them will make is whether or not to consume alcohol. While the choice to drink underage is ultimately their own, the adults of our communities have the responsibility to help educate, support and guide them to make the best choices that they can. There are so many ways that drinking underage can negatively affect a teen’s life. From disrupting brain development to causing an auto-accident, alcohol has the ability to absolutely wreck the future of an underage drinker. In the same vein, there are a ton of ways that we as adults can help prevent these disasters in the lives of our teens. One very important way is to become educated about Social Hosting.
Simply defined, in this context, a “social host” is anyone who allows underage drinking to occur on property that for which they are responsible. While some believe that this type of behavior provides a “safe” way for “kids to be kids”, the truth of the matter is that adults put teens at risk by social hosting—even if the adults take the car keys. In addition to the blatant risk of death from binge drinking, some other risks include making poor choices while under the influence and causing irreparable harm to their developing brains. Social hosts provide an environment for this to occur, but currently are under no liability for the harm.
Many people assume that social hosts would be breaking the law by allowing teens to drink on their property, but current Georgia laws do not consider this to be a crime. Closing the loopholes in the current law, many local communities have passed a “Social Hosting Ordinance” that provides a way to penalize those who choose to be social hosts.
Over the next few months, we will be bringing you information about how social hosting affects your community, why it needs to be stopped, what you can do to help educate others about the effects of underage drinking, and ways to get involved in making a change in Newton County. Please keep an eye out for the next segment of our four-part series!
HEARTS for Families is a non-profit organization based in GA. As part of our work in underage drinking prevention, there is a representative who serves Newton County. If you would like more information about the Alcohol Prevention Project and how you can get involved, please contact Mollie Melvin at molliem@HEARTSforFamilies.org.