Help reduce underage drinking in Columbia.

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You can prevent your child from using alcohol.

It’s never too early or too late to change how your child feels about alcohol.
The Problem
Read more statistics about underage drinking in Missouri, learn the risks for teens as well as parents, and test your knowledge of the myths and facts of underage alcohol use.
The Solution
There are steps you can take with your children and other parents that can help prevent underage drinking. Parental involvement makes a difference, and this section contains tips and valuable information to help you get started.
Get Resources
This section provides parents with easy-to-understand guides and information about underage drinking with some steps they can take to help prevent it.


The Campaign

Being a parent is hard work, probably the hardest job you’ll ever take on.  New trends and substances emerge daily that threaten the safety and wellbeing of our children.  There is good news though.  You can help!

Parents have the greatest influence on whether their children will drink or use drugs. Setting clear rules against drinking, consistently enforcing those rules, and monitoring your child’s behavior all help to reduce the likelihood of underage drinking. It’s never too early or too late to change how your child feels about alcohol. With tools and resources, we can help parents talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of refusing to provide alcohol to minors.



Contrary to what your child tells you, what you say (or don’t say) really does matter! Research shows that parents have the most influence on whether or not their child drinks. Parent Up encourages you to use this power!


Special thanks to Tri-County Mental Health Services, Northland Coalition, and the Vermont Department of Health.


Underage drinking is much more common than you think.

There are many issues contributing to underage drinking in Columbia. Learn more about how access to alcohol, parent involvement, social hosting laws in Columbia, and the consequences and risks of alcohol impact underage drinking:
Facing the Facts
Underage Drinking

  • The average age of first drink in Missouri is 12.72 years old
  • Adolescents who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21
  • Almost one out of every four Columbia Public School Students in grades 8th-12th consumed alcohol in the past month
  • Roughly 14% binge drank in the past month (had 5 or more drinks within a couple hours)

Parent Involvement

  • 73.19% of 8th-12th grade students believe their parents think it is “wrong” or “very wrong” for them to consume alcohol
  • However, only 51.17% of students believe it is “wrong” or “very wrong” to consume alcohol


  • Over two-thirds of 8th-12th grade students indicated it was “very easy” or “sort of easy” to obtain alcohol

Consequences and Risks

  • Short-term risks include impaired motor coordination and judgment
  • Long-term includes liver impairment and alcohol dependence
  • Youth who drink alcohol are 22 times more likely to use marijuana and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than children who never drank
  • Substance use leads to increased risk of academic problems, such as lower grades, absenteeism and high dropout rates
  • Traffic crashes are the number one killer of teens and over one-third of teen traffic deaths are alcohol-related

Parent Involvement
73.19% of 8th-12th grade students believe their parents think it is “wrong” or “very wrong” for them to consume alcohol.
Social Hosting Laws

  • In Missouri it is a violation of the law to knowingly allow a person under 21 to consume or possess alcohol or knowingly fail to stop a person under 21 from consuming or possessing alcohol.
  • Adults who are charged with a first offense face a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or imprisonment up to 6 months. Subsequent offense Class A misdemeanor are punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment up to a year.

Risks for Teens.

Physical & Emotional Risks

According to The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking (2007), underage drinking:

  • Increases the risk of physical and sexual assault
  • Is associated with poor grades, illegal drug use and tobacco use
  • Can cause a range of physical problems ranging from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning
  • May affect a teen’s developing brain, which continues to grow until the late 20s
  • Is a risk factor for heavy drinking later in life

Developmental Problems

Some studies suggest that alcohol can cause long-term changes in the body. Alcohol may interfere with memory function and make it harder for a child’s brain to perform important functions.

The front area of the brain affects healthy thinking and plays a big role in personality and behavior. This part of the brain undergoes dramatic change during adolescence and alcohol use gets in the way of this development and can cause lifelong side effects.


Over three out of ten adolescent and adult suicide victims (attempted or completed) test positive for alcohol.

Alcohol Dependence

Youth who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21. Studies have shown that two out of five kids who begin drinking before age 15 will develop alcohol abuse or dependence at some point in their lives. When they wait until they are 21, the risk for alcohol dependence drops to only one out of ten.



Because alcohol hurts the brain’s ability to think logically and solve problems, it also plays a major role in teenage injuries and deaths. Alcohol-related traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and disability among teenagers. Alcohol is also a major factor in other leading causes of violence, unintentional injuries, risky sexual behavior, homicide and suicide.
Risks for Parents.

Social Hosting

“Social Hosting” is when an adult sells or serves alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. It could be parents or other adults who give alcohol to minors, or adults who provide minors a place to drink. Social Hosting is illegal in Missouri and adults can be charged if they host a drinking party.

No Drinking Party is Safe

There is no such thing as a safe place for underage drinking, and hosting a drinking party for your children sends a dangerous message. You are telling them that you think it is okay to break the law and it can be hard for them to know which laws should or should not be obeyed.

Helping Kids Drink is Illegal

Parents may not:

  • Give alcohol to anyone under age 21
  • Allow minors to drink alcohol on their property

Adults may not give alcohol to anyone underage. In Missouri, if you give or sell alcohol to a minor, or help them buy it, you can be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail or up to a $500 fine. A second offense could be up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.  If a minor drinks on your property and breaks the law, you can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and if someone at the party were to die, you may be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Financial Dangers

You can be sued for giving alcohol to minors, and you can be responsible for anything that happens as a result.

Even if you don’t give the alcohol, you can still be sued if you knowingly allow minors to drink on your property and they hurt themselves or others. You are still responsible even if you are not on your property while underage drinking is going on. Homeowners insurance may not cover damage or injury caused by illegal activity.

Your underage child can be sued for up to eight years following an incident, so even though they may have committed an act when they were under 18, the consequences can affect them as an adult.

Parents, you are the resource.


Help Solve the Problem of Underage Drinking

As a parent, you are the greatest part of the solution. There are steps you can take with your children in order to prevent underage drinking. Studies show that parents have the most influence on whether or not their children will drink. Learn more valuable information to help you start the conversation!

It’s important to start at an early age when it comes to encouraging your children to make healthy choices. Here are some basic steps you can take with your children in order to prevent them from drinking alcohol underage:
You’re the Difference

Be Informed

  • Communicate and stay involved in their lives
  • Ask questions about school, their interests, and friends
  • Ask questions about what they are doing. Make sure to ask where they are going, who they will be with, when they are coming back, whether alcohol will be there, and if there will be adult supervision
  • Set clear expectations for behavior
  • Practice good supervision and consistent discipline

Be Active

  • Set a good example
  • Eat dinner as a family as often as possible—this is a good time to talk about the issues your children face in a non-threatening way
  • Limit access to alcohol. Lock up your alcohol and make sure you monitor the quantity.
  • Check in with your teen before and after they go out.

Be Engaged

  • Stay at home when your child hosts a party
  • Talk to your children’s friend’s parents to ensure there will not be alcohol provided at their house
  • Set a consistent curfew and consequences for missing curfew
  • Get involved in local prevention efforts. Learn more about a prevention coalition in your community.

Parents, you make all the difference.


We want to equip parents to Parent Up.

Opening a line of communication is the first step in trying to prevent underage alcohol use—but sometimes it can feel like the most difficult one. Learn how to discuss underage drinking with your children at a young age and develop your communication as they grow up.


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