social-hostingUnhealthy relationships with alcohol usually begin during the teenage years and are often times carried into young adulthood. Many teenagers who are exposed to alcohol witness binge drinking, that is having 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Most teens are unaware that binge drinking can be extremely dangerous, leading to alcohol poisoning and other health concerns.

Most teenage drinking most occurs at house parties; a new study has found that the majority of parents have knowledge that alcohol is being consumed at these gatherings, NPR reports. A public health researcher, Bettina Friese, at the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, California conducted a study on teen drinking, she found that a large percentage of the teenagers that hosted parties, reported that their parents were aware that kids were consuming alcohol at the parties.

Friese interviewed 1,100 teenagers from Northern California; she found that 39 percent of the teens said they hosted parties, according to the article. Of those, 70 percent said that their parents knew that minors were consuming alcohol, and 24 percent said their parents most likely knew.

Parents who were interviewed by Friese about letting children drink, known as social hosting, gave her a number of excuses. One mother told Friese, “I’d rather they make their mistakes when they’re at home than when they’re away.”

Other reasons included:

  • Underage drinking was inevitable.
  • Not wanting their children to feel excluded.
  • Imposing strict rules could bring more dangerous rebellion.

While parents may feel like they are doing their children a service by letting them drink at home, that it somehow encourages healthier relationships with alcohol; there is, in fact, no evidence to support that theory and there is actually more research that shows that social hosting may have the opposite effect.

There are currently 28 states that have forms of social hosting laws, parents who are caught allowing underage drinking can face serious fines, the article points out. In some states, parents can be fined, even if they were unaware that the drinking was taking place.

“We found that cities with more stringent and enforceable social host laws had lower levels of drinking at parties among teenagers compared to cities with less stringent laws, or without any kind of social host law,” says M.J. Paschall, also with the Prevention Research Center.

The study was published in the Journal of Primary Prevention.