Halloween is wildly popular with teens and young adults, who typically love the chance to wear costumes, eat sweet treats and have some fun.
Parents, however, should be careful not to violate local social host ordinances — a mistake that could haunt them long after the holiday.
The ordinances — in place throughout the county — are particularly relevant now because Halloween marks the start of teen young people’s holiday parties. Some will try to trick their parents into allowing alcohol at their parties, arguing that “everyone does it” and that collecting partygoers’ car keys at the door keeps young people safe.
Falling for the trick violates the social host ordinances, which hold party hosts accountable for underage drinking at their gatherings. Many people don’t realize that mixing young people and alcohol creates a witch’s brew of other potential problems, as well.
Besides traffic crashes, the potential worries include alcohol poisoning, fights, sexual assaults, property damage, accidental injuries, unplanned sex, and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
The brew gets even more potent when the sense of anonymity and “anything goes” attitude that often comes with wearing a costume is added. The potential is evident in California Highway Patrol statistics that show the number of alcohol-related collisions spiking nearly every October between 2005 and 2009.
A 2007 national survey cited by the Centers for Disease Control also found that nearly three out of 10 teens had ridden with a driver who’d been drinking within the previous month. One in 10 said they’d driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period.
Adhering to the social host ordinances will help ensure that Halloween is filled with nothing but treats. The ordinances require anyone hosting a party to verify guests’ ages and keep alcohol out of the hands of those under 21.
Hosts also must control the quantity of alcohol that adult guests consume, and supervise any minors present. Violations are punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
Submitted by Mental Health Systems’ North Inland Community Prevention Program