Social Host Ordinances are a good tool for law enforcement, parents, communities

Janet Moon is the Chief of Police in Peachtree City

Social Hosting is a concern for communities across our nation. Peachtree City has chosen to adopt a Social Host Ordinance for a number of reasons. Most importantly, we are taking steps to help keep our community healthy and safe. Second, this adds another tool that parents can rely on to support their decision to not allow gatherings to continue, or to occur, that involve underage drinking at locations that they have control over.

In a number of surveys completed over the past few years in Fayette County, it was found that parents felt pressured by their children to host parties, and even provide the alcohol, because they felt it would be safer for all the underage drinkers to consume under their supervision. The reality is that this reasoning is far from true.

Often, when gatherings involving underage possession and consumption of alcohol are allowed, they are occurring outside the immediate supervision of parents or the legal adult. Alcohol consumption increases the risks of driving while under the influence, sexual assault, violence, alcohol poisoning, and recreational drug use. This is not only a risk to the youth whom consume the alcohol, but our community as a whole. When kids drink, over half will binge drink, which increases the likelihood of these risks occurring, which can include alcohol poisoning, use of other drugs, risky sexual behavior, sexual assault, violence, and car accidents.

Is this really a problem in our community? Drug Free Fayette, in collaboration with the Fayette County School System, conducted surveys of Fayette County parents and students over the past four years. Through these surveys, it was discovered that 35-percent of high school seniors have been to a party in the last two months where alcohol was available to teens. And 39-percent of seniors know parents who host parties where alcohol is available to teens. Peachtree City Police issued two citations in 2018 related to social hosting.

So, why another law on the books you may ask? The difference between the Social Host Ordinance and the existing ordinances for Disorderly House and Parking violations, is that the Social Host Ordinance addresses the cause of the risks that accompany alcohol consumption by youth; whereas, the other existing ordinances address the resulting behaviors of such gatherings.

The Social Host Ordinance will provide a positive impact for Peachtree City and our residents. Our goal is not to prevent religious or family celebrations, but to educate on the dangers of allowing underage consumption and have the legal support to address those that decide to make this decision for youth other than their own children, by holding the person criminally responsible. Please join me in our efforts to keep our community safe.

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