A majority of parents of Fulton County juniors and seniors view underage drinking by teenagers as a relatively big problem.
But at the same time, 22% of those surveyed were not aware it is illegal to knowingly allow a person under 21 (other than their own child) to remain in their home on their property while drinking or possessing alcohol.
That’s the result of a survey taken by the Partnership For Success, a grant-funded group working in conjunction with the Fulton County Family and Children First Council.
About 1,400 surveys were sent to parents of juniors and seniors. There were 340 surveys returned, a return rate of about 24%.
"To me, this reinforces what we already know," said Brenda Oyer, coordinator for Partnerships for Success.
Underage consumption of alcohol "is an issue of concern to a lot of parents that needs to be addressed in the county.
"It’s an important issue to pay attention to, and invest resources in," she said.
The survey said 66% of parents viewed underage drinking as a relatively big problem; 7% viewed the issue as a small problem.
The remaining 27% had mixed feelings about the size of Fulton County’s underage drinking problem.
Of the 340 parents who returned surveys, 70% thought it was relatively easy for youth to get alcohol in their community, and 76% said they had talked to their child about alcohol use in the last month.
The survey indicated 61% of parents said they were very unlikely to allow their child to attend a chaperoned party where alcohol is available; 85% they were very unlikely to allow their child to attend a party where alcoholic was available, but there were no chaperones.
Oyer said the difference between chaperoned and unchaperoned parties is interesting.
Some may think having an adult supervising a party and preventing youngsters from driving may make it okay.
"But there are other dangers," she said.
Kids tend to binge drink, to keep drinking long after they’ve had too much. That could lead to brain damage, because their young brains are still developing.
Research shows that youth who drink alcohol are more likely to perform poorly in school, become pregnant, and get into trouble with the law.
They are more likely to drive after drinking, ride with friends who are drinking and driving, and take risks.
Of the 22% who were unaware that it was illegal for someone under 21 to drink on their property, Beth Friess, chair of the Family and Children First Council, said in a press release, "What this seems to indicate is that some parents were unaware that is illegal for kids to drink alcohol, even if they are supervised by adults.
"Parents also seemed to not realize that even if they do not provide the alcohol, they can still be held liable for allowing teens to drink on their property.
Of the parents surveyed, 87% thought a friend’s home is the number one or number two most common place for underage youth to drink, and 92% thought beer, common in many homes, is the primary type of alcohol used.
Oyer said the Partnership for Success will continue to conduct its Parents Who Host Lose The Most campaign, to deter adulthosted parties where alcohol is available.
She said there will be more compliance checks in the county, conducted by the Ohio Investigative Unit.
A branch of Ohio Department of Public Safety, the unit enforces Ohio liquor laws. In a compliance check, officers send underage informants into retail establishments to buy alcohol or tobacco products. If the informants complete the purchase, the clerk is cited.
Last May, three local businesses were cited for selling alcohol to minors.