Parental Alcohol Rights Threatened by Proposed Laws

Introducing alcohol beverages to young people within the home by parents is a time-tested way to teach moderation and prepare them for responsible drinking when they become adults. Groups and societies around the world have demonstrated the effectiveness of this practice in reducing alcohol-related problems and alcohol abuse.
In addition, many parents take their children to churches where they partake of alcohol as part of religious services. Similarly, many Jewish parents serve their children alcohol every Friday as part of religious observance. Of course virtually all parents give their children cough medicine and other medications containing alcohol.

All of this would be prohibited under new legislation recently approved by the Rhode Island House of Representatives. The law would criminalize simply “permitting” one’s child to be in possession of alcohol (a definition which includes “failing to take corrective action”). Arrest and conviction would also be easier under loosened rules of evidence under the proposed law.

Similar legislation proposed in Nevada has been deemed too broad and appears to be dead for now. Assembly Judiciary Committee members were concerned, for example, that the proposed law could criminalize permitting participation of youths in religious ceremonies.


  • Casey, David. Parents may pay for teen drinking. Pawtucket Times, May 5, 2005;
  • Hennessey, Kathleen. Teen drinking bill near death in Nevada Assembly. Las Vegas Sun, May 11, 2005.