Preventing Underage Drinking By Educating Parents About 'Social Host Liability'

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It's prom season and along with the elaborate hairdos, corsages and heels come another teenage ritual: drinking.

Schools around the country have implemented countless measures to prevent it, including starting prom in the late afternoon shortly after school, providing mandatory transportation from school, and even making kids walk a straight line to waiting buses.

But what's harder for schools to control is what happens at the after-parties that aren't sanctioned by the schools.

In some communities, officials are telling parents to beware. Twenty-eight states now have some variation of so-called "social host liability" laws, which make it illegal for parents to provide alcohol to minors — even in the confines of their own homes.

These laws hit the headlines in Massachusetts last week when a mother in the Boston-area city of Beverly was sentenced to six months in jail and another six of home confinement for supplying alcohol to her daughter's friend.

She's believed to be one of the first people around the country to be jailed even though the incident didn't involve a fatality.

Some high schools, including Belmont High in Belmont, Mass., are now offering social host liability training, teaching parents about the laws, which authorities expect will be enforced more strongly across the country.


  • Dr. Michael Harvey, principal, Belmont High in Belmont, Massachusetts
  • Carol Cohen, assistant principal, Belmont High

This segment aired on May 17, 2012.


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