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    Parents in Prison for Teen’s Party

    Date: 11.28.07 | by Judge Tom.

    In early November, 2007, Ryan’s mother and stepfather were paroled after serving five months of a two-year prison sentence.  In 2002 they threw a party at their home in Virginia for Ryan’s 16th birthday. His mother spent over $300.00 for beer and wine for approximately thirty 15 and 16-year-old guests. They were found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    Photo by Chris Owens

    Similar incidents have occurred across the country.  Parents, who are considered the social hosts of the party, are being held responsible. In Iowa, a 14-year-old died after consuming a large quantity of alcohol provided by a friend’s mother at a party at her home. She was sent to prison for up to five years and ordered to pay the boy’s family $150,000.00.

    In Michigan, a man provided alcohol at a party where an underage drinker became violent and repeatedly hit another guest with a hammer. A jury held both the host and perpetrator responsible for over $500,000.00 in damages to the victim.

    Another teen attended a Halloween party in New Hampshire where alcohol was served. The host of the party was held responsible for injuries and property damage resulting from the teen’s drive home.

    In Tennessee, parents threw a graduation party for their daughter with beer and wine being served. One of the partygoers was killed in a car accident on his way home. Since the parents tried to control the party by taking some keys at the beginning, the court ruled that a question of whether they were negligent later on could be determined by a jury.

    Where should the line be drawn in parents becoming friends with their kids? What is “cool” behavior and what isn’t? Is it okay for parents to host a party with alcohol or drugs present? What if the parents take everyone’s car keys and/or require all guests to spend the night? Is it then okay?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    • Jake
      Mon, 03 Dec 2007 at 12:58

      Throwing your kids a party at this age is not a good idea. You are basically telling the kids that the drinking age doesn’t matter and that Laws in general are relative.