Social Hosting Ordinances Help our Community by Holding Parents Accountable
By Judge Benjamin Coker, Superior Court Justice, Griffin Judicial Circuit
Parents must remain vigilant in their efforts to curb underage drinking. Many times, the line between being a parent and being a friend to your child can become blurred. Some parents think that by allowing their kids and their kids’ friends to consume alcohol at their residence - even if the parents don’t provide the alcohol - that they are providing a safe place, believing, “at least I know where my kid is and what he/she is doing.” That’s a phrase often said by parents who choose to social host.
A Duty to Protect
It’s understandable for a parent to want to be the “cool” parent and have that special relationship with their children. However, parents owe a duty to their children to protect them from the dangers of the world and to teach their children what is right from what is wrong. Sometimes a parent must be “uncool” in order to do the right thing. By allowing children to drink at home, parents reinforce the idea that drinking underage is not against the law.
Parents should know that eventually these parties will move away from your home. Will it still be okay for underage children to consume alcohol then? We hope not.
A Community at Risk
When parents choose to host parties that involve underage drinking, they are not “cool” parents. They not only put their children at risk, they put the children of others at risk and they put the community as a whole at risk. With social media, these gatherings often spiral out of control. A small gathering grows into an event that spills into the yards of neighbors and into the streets of our community. More often than not, these gatherings involve underage alcohol consumption. Underage drinking increases the risk of driving while under the influence, traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault, and other negative behaviors. Alcohol is a common factor in many of the cases that are prosecuted in our court systems, not only criminally, but civilly as well.
Fayette County’s social hosting ordinance holds those parents accountable who choose to allow underage alcohol consumption at these events. It is a tool used by law enforcement and prosecutors to make our community safer. It is also a tool that parents can use as a reason not to allow underage alcohol consumption at these gatherings. The ultimate goal is to educate our youth about the dangers of underage alcohol consumption and to make our community as a whole, a safer and better place.
In celebrating National Alcohol Awareness Month, we ask that every parent educate themselves about the Social Hosting Ordinances that have been adopted by Fayette County, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Tyrone, Brooks, and Woolsey. You can begin to do that by Googling, “Fayette County GA Social Hosting Ordinances.” Parents should educate their children about the dangers of underage drinking. We owe that to our children, ourselves and our community. Stand united with us and with law enforcement so that we can continue to help curb underage drinking and continue making Fayette County a safer community.
For more information on social hosting
Fayette County’s social host ordinance can be found by googling “Fayette County GA Municode” then going to Chapter 16, paragraph 9. Similar social host ordinances exist for Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Tyrone, Woolsey and Brooks. You can also see local law enforcement heads talk about social hosting in a 3 minute video by googling “Drug Free Fayette Social Hosting.”
Drug Free Fayette thanks our community partners in sharing this message:
- District Attorney's Office of the Griffin Judicial Circuit
- Fayetteville Police Department
- Peachtree City Police Department
- Fayette County Sheriff's Office