Attorney Meredith Jones was recently invited to speak on a Town Hall panel hosted by Substance Abuse Free Indian River (SAFIR) on the dangers of social hosting and underage and binge drinking. The Town Hall was at the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office in Vero Beach.
The other panel participants were Robin Dapp, SAFIR Coalition Chair, Eric Flowers, Lieutenant of Public Affairs, Sheriff’s Department, Liana Urfer, M.D., and Brian Lange, father of two children in the School District of Indian River County. The discussion was moderated by two talented public school students.
The panel participants spoke to the audience about statistics of teenage drinking and drug use in our community, some potential criminal and civil consequences for both youths and adults who are involved with underage drinking, and the importance of building the relationships within families and communities to protect children from the dangers associated with alcohol.
Dr. Urfer talked about how studies show that a person who is exposed to alcohol before they are 15 is four times more likely to be dependent on alcohol as an adult. Meredith pointed out that while parents may think that by allowing their teenaged children to drink at home, where the parents can monitor the situation and maintain safety, the statistics show that plan backfires – teenagers that are allowed to drink at home are more likely to drink elsewhere and more often than those who are not permitted to drink at home.
Adults who supply alcohol to teenagers could be charged with many crimes, including being in violation of Florida Statute 856.015 on Open House Parties or Contributing to the Delinquency or Dependency of a Minor.
However, preventing teenage drug and alcohol use is about much more than not committing a crime. When teenagers drink, they are introducing a harmful chemical substance to their developing brains and other organs, potentially having lifelong consequences. Parents want to keep their children safe, and actively taking steps to talk to them about how and why it’s important to avoid alcohol is one way to do that.