Anne Barounos: Ordinance wrong
Steamboat Springs — It was with great relief that I read this week that the social host ordinance failed to pass City Council. I attended and spoke up at the forum held at the high school and had assumed – obviously mistakenly – that the views of the many people at that meeting who spoke out against the social host ordinance would be transmitted to the City Council. In fact, of the 50-odd parents who attended the high school forum, it seemed that a majority were against the ordinance, for various reasons. To read in the Pilot that City Council received numerous letters in support of the ordinance, and no communications against it, was a bit of a shock to me.
The reasons given at the forum for opposition to the ordinance were varied, but most centered on a concern that, if allowed to pass, the social host ordinance simply would force teenage alcohol use underground, where parents would have no control whatsoever. Like all responsible parents, I am concerned about underage alcohol and drug abuse. However, I am not so naÃive as to think that by making it harder for kids to drink in a somewhat controlled environment, I am going to stop them from drinking entirely.
Frankly, I am far more concerned about kids drinking or doing drugs at some remote non-house location and driving home on icy roads than I am at the possibility that some kids might have a few beers in front of the TV at the home of a parent whom I know and trust who will have the sense to take their car keys away and order them a pizza. For the record, I am fully aware that this second scenario is, technically, just as illegal as the first scenario – the difference is that in the first scenario, the kids are the only ones who are held accountable for their actions – assuming they are still alive. In the second scenario, the social host ordinance would penalize the parents who provided the safe setting.
I believe the social host ordinance would provide no protection for the teenage children who need its help and would jeopardize the efforts of the many responsible parents who are trying to find a realistic balance between teaching their teenage children responsible behavior and giving them the reasonable free reign those children need in order to enter adult society.
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