West Jessamine High School will host the Jessamine County social-host forum on Tuesday, May 1, at 6 p.m.
The forum will include a gathering of forces — including concerned citizens and parents of teenagers, law-enforcement officials, school administrators, and even mental-health-care workers — all with a common mission: to protect teenagers and the general public from the tragic consequences of underage drinking.
The forum is open to the public and will include a discussion and question-and-answer session regarding Jessamine County’s social-host ordinance, created by retired police officer John Branscum and passed by Jessamine County Fiscal Court and city of Nicholasville in fall 2011. During the forum, organizers will provide a partial reading of the ordinance. Afterwards, local law enforcement officials, school administrators and teachers, and mental health care workers as well as Jessamine County Fiscal Court and Jessamine County Health Department representatives will answer questions posed by forum participants.
According to Jessamine County’s social-host Ordinance, it is a Class B misdemeanor for adults who knowingly host a party that includes underage drinking. Depending on the circumstances, violators will receive a fine of $250 and/or up to 90 days in jail; in some cases, violators will also be held responsible for the cost of the required law enforcement response.
“Although the vast majority of parents and citizens agree with the terms of the social-host ordinance, they’re not sure how, when and why it applies to them,” Branscum said. “For example, many citizens don’t understand that although individuals aged 18-20 are considered to be adults in most ways, they are still considered to be underage when it comes to alcohol consumption. The forum on May 1 is an excellent opportunity for parents and concerned members of the community to understand the specific details of the ordinance, why it is important tool for preventing underage drinking, and how it applies to them.”
As part of its support of the Jessamine County community and its residents, Toyota on Nicholasville has donated funding to help promote the social-host ordinance through prizes and giveaways that will be distributed at the May 1 forum, including several gas cards.
“We’re also giving a flat-screen television to the school with the most parents and students who attend the forum,” Jessamine County Health Department’s health educator Shana Peterson said. “The television will be used in the school’s cafeteria. We want to encourage everyone in the community to attend. Preventing the tragedies caused by underage drinking is an important cause and one that needs everyone’s support.”
Attendees should also expect to learn tips on how parents can ensure that the gatherings they and/or their teenagers host are safe from potential underage drinking incidents, according to Bluegrass Prevention Center Alcohol Prevention site coordinator Angela Criswell.
“We want to stress that the ordinance — and the social-host-ordinance forum — is more about preventing the tragedies caused by underage drinking than it is about punishing parents and/or property owners for violating the ordinance,” Criswell said.
For more information, contact Jessamine County Health Department at 859-885-4149 or e-mail ShanaM.Peterson@ky.gov.