A new study finds that when teens host parties where alcohol is available, their parents are often aware of the underage drinking.
The study, published in the Journal of Primary Prevention, included 1,100 teens in Northern California.
Lead researcher Bettina Friese of the Prevention Research Center in Oakland found 39 percent of teens hosted parties with alcohol. Seventy percent of these teens said their parents knew there was drinking going on, and an additional 24 percent said their parents probably knew.
In a previous study published in the Journal of Drug Education, Friese found parents have a variety of reasons for allowing underage drinking, NPR reports.
They say they want to pass on knowledge about drinking responsibly and appreciating alcohol. They may feel pressure from other adults to let their teen drink. Some say they are concerned that forbidding underage drinking would harm their relationship with their teen and potentially lead to drunk driving.
Cities and communities around the country have passed some sort of social host law, which holds adults responsible for any underage drinking that occurs on their property.
In Ventura County, California, a person can be fined $1,000 if they are 21 or older and host a party where alcohol is available to minors. If police are called to the same location twice in one year, the fine doubles to $2,000. The parents are also charged for the cost of city services if the fire department or other emergency services are called. Underage drinking has decreased in the county since the law was passed six years ago, the article notes.
Another recent study found teenagers are less likely to drink at parties if their community has strong social hosting laws. The researchers looked at 50 communities in California, half of which had social hosting laws. Teens were less likely to say they drank at parties if they lived in communities with especially strong social hosting laws.