Parents, keep your grads alcohol-free

To the parents of the Class of 2012:

This time of year many of our community leaders will share inspirational words of wisdom with our graduating seniors. We recognize that graduation is a wonderful milestone, not to mention an amazing accomplishment. And we know that behind each successful graduate is a supportive community of parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends and more.

But, this letter is not for graduates. It is for you, their parents. We want to remind you of the frightening role alcohol will play in your teen’s social life over the next few weeks. Perhaps you are a parent who has worked hard to teach your teen to stay away from alcohol. Access to alcohol by teens just got a lot easier this graduation season as the number of stores selling liquor has increased five-fold since June 1. Sadly, studies provide evidence that an increase in retail alcohol sales leads to an increase in underage alcohol consumption.

Maybe you are tempted to be the “cool parent” who’ll serve beer or mixed drinks at a graduation party. You may think that by serving alcohol at a party in your control, you will help keep your teen and their friends safe. We’re here to tell you differently: Providing alcohol for your teen at home will not keep your kids safe. Underage drinking condoned by an adult can lead to car crashes, fights and sexual assaults, which can result in injuries or even death. You will be held responsible if you supplied the alcohol. Anyone in our state charged with supplying alcohol for underage drinkers can expect up to a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.

Keep this graduation season a safe and happy one for your teen. Plan celebration parties and activities where alcohol is not available. Don’t treat underage drinking as a “rite of passage.” Talk to your teen. Talk to the parents of your teen’s friends. Stay involved. Be a responsible parent so your teen can be responsible this graduation season. For more information, we recommend this excellent resource for parents: www.starttalkingnow.org.

Enjoy these next few weeks with your graduate. And congratulate yourselves on a job well done in helping raise this next generation of impressive and successful young adults.

John Lovick

Snohomish County Sheriff

Kathy Atwood

Everett Police Chief