ELYRIA — A town hall meeting aimed at getting parents and teens to talk openly before underage drinking starts will take place 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Elyria City Hall.
Hosted by City Council members Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward, Brenda Davis, D-2nd Ward, and Mark Jessie, D-3rd Ward, the meeting is all about the adverse effects of underage drinking on the community and how it could lead to other substance abuse.
Underage drinking is a public health problem, according to Madison, who said he decided early on to not engage in underage drinking, despite peer pressure.
“Teens have to know they can make wise decisions when it comes to alcohol — not just for them, but for other people,” he said. “Underage drinking could lead to drunken driving, confrontations with people they are not prepared for and other negative effects.”
The meeting, co-sponsored by the Communities That Care of Lorain County and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, is in conjunction with the Parents who Host Lose the Most campaign, aimed at urging parents not to host parents to underage people where alcohol is served.
The timing is also appropriate with graduation and prom season.
“Now is a good time to have this conversation,” Law Director Scott Serazin said. “Parents need to know this is not a non-issue. Parents need to impress upon their children why the underage drinking law was put in place and they can’t ignore it.”
Serazin said the meeting will also be a good time to talk about a companion social ordinance that would give city prosecutors more ammunition to go after parents and adults who provide alcohol. It could be similar to laws passed in Peninsula and Dublin.
“The way the law reads in Ohio, in order to prosecute a parent for social hosting where minors get drunk, you have to prove they had knowledge there would be alcohol and guests would get drunk,” he said. “But a bill in the legislation is hoping to change the required to negligence, which would make it easier to charge and prosecute an individual who provides alcohol to minors.”
While the bill is stalled at the state level, local municipalities can pass social ordinances making the crime a misdemeanor based on negligence, not just knowledge or intention.