The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians is spearheading the effort called "Parents who host lose the most," taking the message of alcohol use awareness to the public through hundreds of small roadside signs.
The message couldn't be more clear: Parents who provide their children with the place and means to drink alcohol are courting disaster.
Each year various community organizations, law enforcement, school officials, parents groups, etc., step up alcohol awareness campaigns aimed at students headed to homecoming or prom or other big events in their young lives.
What's different about the 'Don't be a party to teenage drinking" campaign is that it takes square aim at the people who, frequently, provide students with the ways and means and place to get drunk — parents.
Half of the teens by age 17 who attend parties have been to one where parents are present, according to nonprofit Drug-Free Action Alliance. Michigan Department of Community Health statistics show that 69 percent of Michigan's middle and high school students report consuming at least one drink of alcohol — relating directly to the $2 billion annual cost of medical treatment because of underage drinking in the state.
When parents provide alcohol to their minor children or the children's friends, there is just no confusing the message — it's condoning alcohol use by minors.
We understand that parents find themselves in the awful position of knowing their minor children are likely to try alcohol. That knowledge leads some parents to either be "cool" in their kids' eyes and buy booze for them, or to allow them to drink in their presence under the false impression that they as parents can somehow keep their children safer that way.
There's nothing "cool" about buying beer for your teenage son who then kills or maims himself or others in a car crash. Parents are fooling themselves if they think supervised illegal alcohol use is a smart plan, and we're flabbergasted to think some parents believe it's OK to "buy" for another family's child.
Besides being held civilly liable, Emmet County Prosecuting Attorney James Linderman said the following charges and penalties apply to people furnishing alcohol or who allow people under age 21 to consume alcohol/and or drugs:
— Selling/furnishing alcohol, causing death, is a felony that can result in 10 years in prison and/or $5,000 fines. This charge can apply when alcohol/drugs is a contributing factor in a death (such as in a car crash).
— Selling/furnishing alcohol or drugs is a misdemeanor, with possible penalties of 60 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000 and community service.
— Under the party host law, allowing people under age 21 to consume on your property, in your home, in your rented apartment, or other place under your control is a misdemeanor, which can lead to 30 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Linderman said that charge is more common this time of year, with proms and graduations.
— Contributing to the delinquency of a minor under age 17 can involve penalties of 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
This awareness campaign serves as a vivid reminder that kids are getting their alcohol from somewhere, and often that's from home, with a parent's knowledge.
As graduation party season rolls around, the message that it's illegal and potentially devastating needs to be heard.
We appreciate the role the tribe and other project supports play in making this message loud and clear. If you are interested in having a sign put at your lawn or business, contact the Little Traverse Bay Bands Substance