Parents & Underage Drinking Targeted

If your 20-year-old son is on leave from Iraq, don’t serve him a glass of wine with dinner on New Year’s Eve. At least, not if you live in Arizona and want to avoid heavy fines and imprisonment.

The Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control is, in its own words, “sending the message to parents that it’s illegal to give kids alcohol,” and it specifically includes giving a “glass of wine on New Year’s Eve” to their offspring. It has publicly announced its intention to go on the offensive against parents and aggressively enforce the law.

This is well intentioned but likely to be counter-productive. Many groups around the world have learned how to consume alcohol widely with almost no problems. Those familiar to most Americans include Italians, Jews, and Greeks.

In these successful groups education about alcohol starts early and starts in the home. Young people are taught -- through their parents' good example and under their supervision -- that if they drink, they must do so moderately and responsibly. These groups would argue that it’s better for young people to learn to drink in the parent’s house than in the fraternity house.

This sensible approach has enabled many groups to avoid the alcohol abuse problems that have plagued our society.

Recently, another study of young people in the United States has found that drinking with parents is a protective factor against the abuse of alcohol. Yet the state of Arizona is waging war against this protective practice. Unfortunately, the results will almost certainly be an increase in alcohol abuse, injury and death among young people.


  • Davis, Kristine. Underage drinking targeted. East Valley Tribune, December 23, 2004.