Ideally, no parent wants their teen to drink or use drugs, but some parents are tempted to accept teen drinking as a harmless rite of passage.

Many parents wrestle with the issue of underage drinking. Ideally, no parent wants their teen to drink or use drugs, but some parents are tempted to accept teen drinking as a harmless rite of passage. It’s unhealthy and unsafe behavior. So how can you protect your child from harm?

Here are some tips:

There is no “safe” level of alcohol or drug use when it comes to teenagers. To keep your kids safe, adopt a “no use” policy. Make sure your kids know they are not allowed to drink at other people’s homes as well.

As parents or caregivers, present a united front, especially when it comes to issues regarding your teen’s safety and protection.

Don’t send mixed messages by trying to “bargain” with your teen about drinking and other risky behaviors. Trying to limit use to home sends mixed messages; it tells your teen that drinking is okay, and puts them at great risk.

Forget about being the “cool” parent. Parents who are permissive have kids who are more likely to get into trouble, including traffic crashes, engaging in violence, unsafe sex and substance use.

Your words and actions DO matter. Remember, silence isn’t golden, it’s permission—have a talk with your kids today—send this simple yet powerful message: underage drinking and drug use are unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable!


Where a personal sense of responsibility fails, legal accountability can step in. Through social host liability laws, adults can be held responsible for underage drinking parties, regardless of who furnished the alcohol. New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, Springfield and Comfrey have Social Host Ordinances. To read the entire ordinance please visit Brown County USAC at

Social host ordinances give communities a practical tool for holding adults accountable for underage drinking. These laws allow law enforcement to cite individuals who hosted an underage drinking party on their property. When enforcing liability at the state level, social host liability can be defined as a criminal act, or in terms of civil liability. Criminal acts are enforced through criminal prosecution, punishable by fines, imprisonment or both. Civil Liability covers: injured parties seeking monetary damages from host, settling through litigation brought against host by injured parties.

Well-meaning parents often host drinking parties on behalf of their children, either in the belief that they can control the amount of alcohol a teen consumes or because they consider teen drinking inevitable and that their supervision can ensure the safety of the children involved. Truth is, once revelers start drinking and the party begins to grow in size, it can quickly spiral out of control and lead to devastating consequences.

For information about how to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol, visit our website at