Monday, April 28, 2003

Prom season brings drinking warning
- to parents

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

Attorneys in three Northern Kentucky counties have teamed up to remind parents they could face criminal or civil sanctions for allowing high school-age children and their friends to drink.

Their message comes as prom season is in full swing across the region and senior parties aren't far behind.

• Beechwood: Saturday
• Bellevue: May 9
• Boone County: Saturday
• Dayton: Friday
• Dixie Hts: May 17
• Ludlow: May 10
• St. Henry: Friday
• Scott: May 24
• Simon Kenton: May 9
• Villa Madonna: Friday
Campbell County Attorney Justin Verst, Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson and Boone County Attorney J.R. Schrand have sent a warning letter about parents' responsibilities to principals at every public and private high school in the three counties.

"This started years ago when a father called me and said his daughter was at a parent's house and got drunk," said Campbell County Attorney Justin Verst. "He didn't want to prosecute because he knew the parents, but said something needed to be done to make parents more aware of their responsibility."

Edmondson said there is an urban myth among some parents that it's OK for kids to consume alcohol in their home, and that it happens most often this time of year when proms and senior parties are taking place.

He wants to emphasize to parents that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol in Kentucky, no matter where they are or who is supervising.

"Kids are served alcohol in homes, get intoxicated, then go out and get in an accident, become a paraplegic, or die," said Edmondson. "We have prosecuted parents in the past for this."

Verst said adults can face a $250 fine and spend 90 days in jail for a first-time offense. A second offense could result in a $500 fine and a year in jail.

"The law reads that if parents knew or should have known about alcohol being consumed by minors on their property, the parents are responsible," said Verst.

Anthony Strong, principal at Campbell County High School, said the school does what it can to promote Verst's message.

"What we try and do is make sure, through newsletters, that parents know the dangers of the students drinking," said Strong.

Schrand said parents may not have bad intentions in allowing kids to drink, but don't always think of the consequences.

"I think a lot of times it's a wake-up call when there is a tragedy," said Schrand. "We want to do what we can to prevent that tragedy from happening."

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