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Patch Editor Shares Thoughts on Social Hosting

In light of a recently hosted underage drinking party, and the tragedy resulting from such a gathering in 2006, I take a closer look at this issue and the responsibility we as adults have to young people, and each other.

 

In the , one of the highlighted items was about a woman who hosted a party where 14 underage drinkers got cited for, you guessed it, underage drinking-in addition to some being cited for possession of cannabis. 

Now before I go further, I want to make clear that I am not passing judgement on this woman, or countless other parents who have made this very choice. 

Those include a Deerfield couple who paid a very steep price, after hosting a drinking party at their home in 2006 attended by 18-year-olds Ross Trace of Riverwoods, and Danny Bell, a 2006 DHS graduate, who both died in a car crash after attending the party, as reported by the Chicago Tribune in 2007.

Bell, who was driving away from the party at the time of the car crash, had a blood alcohol level of 0.132, the article reported. 

My gut feeling tells me the intention behind these choices was to provide the safest environment possible for these young people; we all know there are many teens who will inevitably experiment with drugs and alcohol.

So monitoring the inevitable under your own roof could be an enticing, and somewhat settling prospect. But we must always remember that the road is paved with good intentions.

As a parent myself, I've pondered the mindsets of parents who choose to host these parties.

I imagine the thought process could go something like this; "If I have my child in my home as they drink, I can make sure they are safe and monitor how much they have to drink."

And on paper, that sounds great.

But in reality, the repercussions of these choices, can actually backfire in a number of ways.

"What parents sometimes don't get, is there is a whole host of criminal acts and tragedy [like the 2006 Deerfield case] that can come from these types of parties, including property taken from the home, battery, sexual assault and as we have seen in Deerfield and surrounding suburbs, deaths," said John Sliozis, Deerfield police chief. 

"Even though parents might think they have full control, there is a way for the kids to get out and do damage to themselves or others, the potentials for all of these things increase dramatically with underage alcohol consumption," he said. 

Chief Sliozis said the is an example where potentially horrific results were thwarted by police. 

At least one commenter on felt the punishment for the adult charged for hosting the party wasn't harsh enough. 

"Is creating a public nuisance the only charge you can make for an adult who hosts an underage drinking party? I thought the penalties were more severe than that," Deerfield Resident commented.

For those who agree, the charges and resulting punishments, will become stricter in the new year. 

"The defendant was charged under village ordinance, which happens in probably 90-percent of the cases," Sliozis said. "There is brand new legislation that prohibits 'Social Hosting' which is House Bill 1554.

The bill classifies the offense of Social Hosting as a Class A Misdemeanor and requires a minimum $500 fine for a first offense, and a minimum $2,000 fine for subsequent offenses. Community service and alcohol abuse prevention education also would be required. 

If someone is killed as a result of an adult hosted party with underaged drinkers, the offense would become a Class 4 Felony, and includes more than a year in prison and stiffer fines.

The new legislation will be enacted Jan. 1, 2013

Sliozis said the village is working to increase fines for hosting these types of parties in the local ordinances, to hopefully act as more of a deterrent to parents and adults who might consider doing it. 

Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal, who sits on the Parents. The Anti-Drug board, wants to make sure the best choices are being made by parents for their children. 

"One of the things we have found out from Illinois Youth Surveys is the biggest deterrent to alcohol and drug consumption for teens is losing the trust of a parent, so when it is condoned, the results can be disastrous, as we have seen," Rosenthal said. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism also points out that people who begin drinking early in life have an increased chance of becoming alcoholics, and teens allowed to drink by their parents, on average, consume more alcohol when they are partying away from home. 

So parents, just like I will, take this information and let it help you form your own decisions on what is best for you and your family. But do remember the other families that could potentially be affected by your choices in the end. 

In the original opinion piece, it stated the teenagers at the Aug. 10 Deerfield gathering were arrrested for drinking and/or cannabis possession, when in fact they were cited by Deerfield Police. Patch regrets the error. 

Ernest Hemingway September 04, 2012 at 01:07 PM
This is a disappointing piece on a very important topic. Please check your facts! The teenagers were not arrested. They were ticketed for ordinance violations. The homeowner allowed a gathering of young people at her home on a lovely August night, allowing college freshmen the opportunity to have a final goodbye prior to leaving good friends of many years. She hosted a party NOT a drinking party. The kids brought in the booze. We'll see if the noise ticket sticks. How about a follow up article?
Beth September 04, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I think it is worth mentioning that although I am not privy to the information regarding the hosted party in August there are other factors that I am aware happens. The teenagers within our community want a place to hang out. They look for the places where they can get away with as much as possible. For example, if parents don't check things like water bottles, which kids have been known to camouflage liquor placed in a container that looks like water or another innocent drink. If your child has kids over, these things need to be checked. Are all parents willing to make the effort. Condoning the behavior is totally irresponsible but not policing the cagey activity that could be happening under the radar is irresponsible too. In many cases it starts out by, being the nice parent by opening up your home to a group of kids. It could end up with a higher level of not only vulnerability but responsibility which started out to be something as gracious as opening up your house to a bunch of teenagers.
DeerfieldResident September 04, 2012 at 02:29 PM
If she hosted a party where kids were drinking, she hosted a drinking party. It does not matter where the liquor came from. That is the point and the lesson we all should have learned from the tragic death of those young men in 2006. When you have teenagers in your home, you need to be on alert. Do walk throughs. Make your presence known. Make sure your kid understands what is at stake so he or she will come to you if other kids bring in liquor.
Melanie Santostefano (Editor) September 04, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Thank you for your comment. The piece now reflects the underage drinkers were cited, not arrested, for alcohol and/or possession of cannabis. Have a great week! Melanie
Gil Sharon September 04, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Editor? Really? *judgment - not judgement (Unless our editor happens to be English) *graduate - not gradutate *repercussions - not repricussions If Patch wants to be taken seriously as a real journalistic outlet, you need to improve your quality control.

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