A national program, being highlighted in Morris County, emphasizes the consequences for parents and adults who host underage drinking parties.

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The program is called "Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don't Be a Party to Teenage Drinking," and the Community Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Morris is promoting it as part of its countywide efforts to prevent underage drinking.

"It is a criminal offense in New Jersey to allow underage drinking in your home," said Barbara Kauffman, CCSHM coordinator.

CCSHM also prioritizes curbing prescription drug abuse and tobacco use. In this case, they have been working with 15 municipal alliances in Morris County to be what Kauffman calls their "feet" -- providing each town with signs and banners so residents get the message.

"What we do as a coalition is provide media exposure," she said.

Penalties for hosting an underage drinking event may include a fine and criminal record, temporary loss of driver's license, and maybe the performance of community service for 30 days. Offenders can face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

But the ramifications can go even further.

"You can even be civilly liable if sued by another parent," Kauffman said, adding that is especially true if a drinking teen hurts someone or themselves, or damages property. "There are so many things that can go wrong. Sexual assault. You can obviously be sued by those parents, besides losing relationships, maybe."

Some of the statistics are, well, sobering. According to Kauffman, 60 to 80 percent of 11th- and 12th-graders have obtained alcohol from their homes or at home parties. Thirty percent report consuming alcohol at home, with their parents' permission.

To find out more information about "Parents Who Host, Lose the Most," click here. The campaign runs through the end of this month.

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