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Warning bells for parents

Media release from ALAC
For immediate release

Warning bells for parents

Your average parent considering throwing a birthday bash for their teenage son or daughter at their home is unlikely to consider the fact that they could be up for a $20,000 fine.

But warning bells may be ringing for many parents who have read media reports of a parent who received police diversion after pleading guilty to an offence under the Sale of Liquor Act following a party for his daughter. About 200 teenagers attended the party, held at a farm he managed.

The Police called to attend a stabbing during the party charged the parent under section 153 of the Sale of Liquor Act. This section provides for any person being the occupier or taking part in the care, management or control of any unlicensed premises, who allows the premises to be kept or used as a as a “place of resort for the consumption of liquor” to be fined up to $20,000.

The man must pay a $1000 donation to charity and also faces a legal bill.

Chief Executive of the Alcohol Advisory Council Dr Mike MacAvoy says the conviction raises a number of issues for parents around young people and the hosting of parties. He says many parents will worry that they may be fined for hosting parties for themselves or their children at which alcohol is present.

The issue of providing alcohol for people under the legal drinking age also arises, Dr MacAvoy says. Parents have the right under the law to provide alcohol to their own children. But things are less clear cut when it comes to supplying alcohol to other under-aged people.

Dr MacAvoy says media reports indicate that uninvited people arriving at parties (gatecrashers) are an important part of the problem of parties getting out of hand. There have been reports concerning physical harm to partygoers and also damage to homes where the party is being held, caused by gatecrashers.

There are a number of things parents can do to ensure their children have safe parties while at the same time keeping within the law, says Dr MacAvoy.
“If you are allowing your teenagers to have a party, register it with the Police. Let them know ahead of time when and where the party will be held. Telephone the Police if and when the first gatecrashers arrive. Police can then disperse the gatecrashers quickly before any harm or damage is done.”

He says such a scheme is working well in Dunedin and the North Shore where the Police and District Licensing Agencies are working jointly to assist parents and others hosting parties. It is hoped that in time systems like this will deter potential gatecrashers.

A further concern for parents may be that if they refuse to host a party for their teenager, the party will relocate to the nearest beach or park where the young people may drink illegally obtained liquor in a harmful manner.

Dr MacAvoy is concerned that some parents do not know where their children are and what they are doing. “This is evident in the recent spate of reports of children as young as 10 years old being found drunk or even comatose in public places late at night.”

He says parents need to be aware of their legal obligations and responsibilities around their children. “Parents need to know where their children are. They need to be pro-active and plan for eventualities. This can also include parent hosts checking out arrangements with the parents of guests.”

Some of these obligations can be found in aspects of the Sale of Liquor Act and the Children and Young Persons and Families Act. “Plain commonsense is also part of it.”

- The Alcohol Advisory Council has produced a booklet for parents entitled Alcohol and Your Kids, and also provides guidelines to safe parties.
- Check out the Alcohol Advisory Council website on www.alcohol.org.nz
- More information on the law around parents and supplying alcohol can be found in the Host Responsibility section of ALAC’s website www.alcohol.org.nz

ENDS

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