Parties focus of session

Parents invited to presentation at Vernon Secondary School Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Virtually every parent of a teenager has likely struggled with the decision to let their child have a party in the safety of their own home or let them go out.

Giving them permission to go to a party gives them more freedom, but also puts them in a situation where there could be drugs and alcohol. Whereas keeping them at home allows the parents to keep control of the situation.

“They know their kids are going to be drinking,” said Bill Dick, a father of two teenagers, local resident and lawyer with Murphy Battista.

“It’s the lesser of two evils.

“They want to provide a safe and secure environment for their kids to have these parties. That’s where the vast majority of parents are coming from.”

But as Dick will explain at a presentation at Vernon Secondary School Wednesday  at 7 p.m., doing so could also have catastrophic consequences for parents.

“They’re opening themselves up to all kids of liabilities,” said Doug Rogers, the Vernon School District’s substance abuse counsellor.

To make sure parents take the responsibility very seriously, Dick explains that tragic events can occur and the parents may be held liable.

“If you provide alcohol to an underage person you may face criminal charges too,” said Dick.

Exposure risks to liability include knowing kids are getting intoxicated and driving, providing alcohol to someone who may injure themselves or others and occupiers of alcohol related injuries on the property.

Even parents who let their teenagers drive their car are held responsible if the driver is intoxicated and causes a crash, injury or even death.

“You as the owner of the vehicle are vicariously liable,” said Dick, who has represented both sides of such cases.

The goal of the presentation isn’t to scare parents into not hosting parties at their house, it’s to educate them so they take the responsibility very seriously.

As a result, Dick will also share steps to minimize those risks.

Since hearing the stories of what goes on at some of these parties, including serious injuries and fatalities, Rogers is eager to get the message across.

“In my 12-year career in this job I’ve been to 10 funerals and most of them were alcohol related,” said Rogers, who is especially cautious this time of year – grad season.

Dick adds: “Stats continue to show that alcohol is responsible for a wide array of injuries and death.”

Dick goes on to cite a survey in the U.S. which says one in three teens have attended a party where drugs and alcohol were present and the parents were home.

“A lot of times parents are going to think they are on top of things but kids are going to sneak things in,” said Dick, understanding that parents don’t want to embarrass their