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Crackdown on adult 'teen party' hosts approved

Original post made on Nov 20, 2007

A "social host" ordinance designed to crack down on adults who allow "Animal House"-like parties -- or any gathering of more than four teens involving alcohol -- was approved Monday night by the Palo Alto City Council.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 8:45 AM

Comments (56)

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 9:12 am

It has to be down to the parents. I would never dream of letting kids drink in my home and would always be diligently on the lookout for same. I would assume that if my kids go to friends homes, the same would apply. Only, to my horror, I have discovered that it is not the case. It is really sad that not only do you have to be careful who your kids are friends with, but you also have to be careful of who their friends' parents are. I know and like a lot of my kids' close friends. I know some of the parents, but not all. Now it seems that their parents have to be checked out too.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck School
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:04 am

You would never dream of letting kids drink in your home...but a PAUSD teacher did last year (that huge teen party) with no repercussions...odd, isn't it?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:38 am

This story says the law allows a home owner to be prosecuted even if they do not know of or permit the activity. So I guess that means every adult in Palo Alto is now a prisoner in their home until their children turn 18. You better not leave the house, how can you?

Posted by Evan, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:42 am

"A property owner, tenant, host or parents can be found liable even if they did not permit or know of the drinking, Burns said. "

Are you kidding me with this? They're kids. Kids drink. And whether you know about it or not you can prosecuted? I fear for the future.

Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:45 am

There's no rule that says "Kids drink." Kids don't have to drink. I honestly cannot understand why this assumption is accepted as irrefutable fact. Oh our poor kids are just soooooo stressed by school, waahhh wahhh wahhh.

Suck it the hell up and learn to cope with reality.

I know of parents who teach their kids, at a young age, that imbibing alcohol is the way to cope with difficulties. Those parents are not doing anyone any favors.

There are a lot of non-alcoholic ways of dealing with stress and setbacks. Teach your kids different coping mechanisms that do not involve mind-altering beverages or substances. That will serve them better as they move into adulthood.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 11:01 am

Who said anything about stress. Kids drink for fun, not for stress relief. Talk about needing to get in touch with reality. The question is, will they drink in some park, or on some hillside, or will they drink in someone's home. (who's parents are out of town?) Well,we certainly hope it won't be the latter - right?

Posted by Millie, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Nov 20, 2007 at 11:56 am

Darwin at work...

Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Thank you, Another Parent! This whole idea of 'Kids drink' is ridiculous. The high schools have a hard enough time getting the message across that not all kids drink. Parents who believe that being a teenager and drinking go hand-in-hand are undermining those efforts.
I have mixed feelings about the ordinance – it may not be as intrusive as it sounds. "Can be found liable" is different from "will be found liable" and not opposite of "cannot be found liable". It's the difference between 'maybe', 'yes' and 'no'. I can live with 'maybe' if it's intelligently applied.
What this opens up is the possibility that parents will be more responsible for their children - that evening and perhaps leading up to that evening, too. It also reduces the lame "I knew nothing" defense - ideally the ordinance would apply to lame excuses and not legitimate claims.
I imagine this ordinance could be an effective deterrent. Teenagers will realize that it's not up to their parents alone as to whether there will be a punishment. And parents who have lost some control of their children can use it as a stick, too. As for the parents who know their kids drink irresponsibly, maybe they'll think twice about that weekend getaway without the kids and act responsibly themselves by either monitoring their own children or arranging for someone else to do so.

(LOL, Millie! Just stay off the street in the wee hours or you may become an unintended Darwinian casualty yourself.)

Posted by Not-Really-Impressed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:28 pm

From the article above:

> A property owner, tenant, host or parents can be
> found liable even if they did not permit or know
> of the drinking, Burns said.

As written, it would appear that the Palo Alto Police and City Council have decided that if you rent property to tenants with kids and one of these "wild parties" happens--then you could be charged, even if you don't live on the property--or even in Palo Alto itself. Property owner means even an empty lot where kids happen to hang out and drink.

Given the hostility towards property owners demonstrated in this ordinance, there seems to be no prejudice towards teenagers at such parties who might have purchased alcohol under fraudulent terms, or consumed alcohol illegally. Wonder why the teens who are the root cause of these problems get a pass from the "powers that be"?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 1:02 pm

The more I hear of this, the more I am beginning to be concerned. Instead of helping the problem, this could be making things worse, or at least causing a different problem.

Anecdotally, I have heard of two parties in the past year which were safe, alcohol free, and in each case gatecrashed by those not invited who heard about it. In one case, it was students from one high school gatecrashing a party from the other high school and in another case, it was a freshman party where "friends" of the older sibling got to hear of the party and started to gatecrash. In both cases the gatecrashers brought their own alcohol and in both cases, the police were called by the hosting parents as a means of dealing with some of the problems caused by the gatecrashers. In these scenarios with this new law, the parents will have to deal with it themselves for fear of getting fined for something they were doing their level best to prevent.

I can see in future that even safe parties are going to have to be banned because parents do not want to be prosecuted for something some of their guests, invited or uninvited do. If they do go ahead and have a party, they will throw out those who are drinking to get in their cars and drive home drunk instead of what may be safer, calling to get help.

This could be just taking away the help that some teen drinkers need.

Posted by devil's advocate, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2007 at 1:16 pm

I don't think it is fair to say a PAUSD teacher did it...I heard that some kids showed up to her house drunk from someone that knows her. I would hate for this to be brought up again if the facts are not there to support it. I don't have the "facts" either, but I just wanted to put this out there so not to hastily pass blame.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 20, 2007 at 2:19 pm

This ordinance may encourage parents to be more "careful," but let's not kid ourselves. Parents will have to cover up the mess themselves, and kids will simply have to be more "careful" to avoid police because nobody wants power-tripping law enforcement to get involved.

In principle, this ordinance is a godsend to the uptight, over-protective Palo Alto parents, but in effect, this is really one big incentive to keep the police out of the picture - which is fine with me.

It's amusing how people take the idea of "rambunctious teen drinking" and run with it, as if this is some kind of virus plaguing our community. Oh no, not teen drinking!

Posted by Not-Really-Impressed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 2:36 pm

A couple of the posters have some interesting thoughts.

Suppose parents allow their kids to have an alcohol/drug-free party (meaning that no alcohol will be served or allowed in the home) and one/more kids come drunk. A neighbor, annoyed at all of the cars parking here and there call the police and claim that there is a "wild party" going on at this home. The cops arrive and hear party noise coming from the home.

What next? Does the "complaint" from the disgruntled neighbor give the police the right to enter the home?

So .. let's suppose that the parents are not aware that one/more kids have arrived drunk (but not carrying any visible containers). The cops enter (by whatever means) and detect that these kids are drunk. Even without any alcohol present, the cops could claim that the alcohol was provided at the home and cite/arrest the parents. Presumably the drunk kids would not be cited.

Seems to me that this ordinance could be very oppressive to parents who allow their kids to have parties in their homes.

Posted by Ronald L., a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2007 at 3:19 pm

This is what happens when the Chief of Police
determines our City's laws.

Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Hey, Devil's Advocate, do you have access to Facebook? I saw photos of the party at the teacher's house and it showed kids in attendance pouring vodka into a bucket, mixing drinks. IN THE HOUSE. One of the kids in the photos mixing the drinks was a Paly football player. Another was the kid who lived in the house.

Sure, some other drunk kids showed up and tried to crash the party, but saying there wasn't any alcohol there until the party-crashers showed up is just false.

My kids (one now in college, another a college grad) were welcome to have parties here at my house. They knew the house rules -- no booze allowed. That meant that their classmates who "needed" to be drunk to have fun just didn't attend.

Posted by devil's advocate, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Another Parent- I guess a picture tells a thousand words. The person who told me the teacher's side is a member of the teacher in question's school population. Obviously, they will hear the "poor me" side. Seriously, I appreciate your response.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Another parent. No more 'safe' parties at your house I guess - for fear that you become an unwitting, unknowing host of kids who end up being there drunk (sneaking it in, drinking down the street, drinking before they get there, etc.) without your knowledge or permission. (What do you check pockets before they come in? Do you stand in the middle of the kitchen monitoring every move during the whole party?

So now, your kids get to go somewhere else to 'be safe'. Great idea, huh?

I hope someone challenges this. This is wrong.

Posted by Shaking my head, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2007 at 4:58 pm

I have never seen a community with so many self-righteous inhabitants as the town of Palo Alto. What a town...

Posted by Not-Really-Impressed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 5:47 pm

> The police department has arrested 79 minors for possessing
> alcohol, 71 minors for being drunk in public, and responded to
> 12 parties at private residences in the last few years, according
> to the staff report. In October 2006, six officers spent more than
> two hours handling a wild Palo Alto party.

According to this, found in the other local paper, the police do actually charge teens found drunk in public. The statement, as printed, does not provide a linkage between those kids arrested and their being at the 12 parties that the police have attended over the "last few years".

Assuming that "few years" means more than two years, this means that the police are claiming that they don't have enough "resources" to go to 2-3 parties that are "out-of-control" a year? What about Mutual Aid? If shutting these affairs down is so important, why not ask for some help from Mountain View and Los Altos on those occasions?

It would be really interesting to find out who decided that this ordinance needed to be passed. A couple of years ago the current Chief of Police claimed that "public urination" was a big problem and needed an ordinance against that "crime". There has been no follow-up by the media, or the police, to provide any statistics about the decrease in the incidence of "public urination" in response to the passage of this ordinance. Wonder if there will be any follow-up on the occurrence of "wild parties" after this ordinance has become law?

Posted by thinking, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2007 at 12:13 am

lets' face it - it is hard enough to forage a course for our offspring without taking responsibility for the offspring of the community for appropriate behavior - obviously we would prefer youth postpone the use of mind altering chemicals until the have passed the age of the United States declared "legal age" - look back in history and find the time, place and community who can say - age equals "reason" - do we know better - or just hope we can stem the tide? ..... punish a few who are caught to discouage the many from faultering .... or simply suggest the best course of action....that is the question...

Posted by Good grief, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2007 at 7:58 am

I am amazed at the number of people who don't want to be responsible for their kids and their kids' friends in the house. The poster who said "oh well, prisoner in your house till your kids are 18"...uh, OF COURSE!! THEY ARE THE PARENTS' JOB!

It would NEVER enter my mind to leave my home when any of my kids' friends are in it! PERIOD!

Even at 17!

What has happened to you guys that you think kids in your house is not your responsibility? I don't even let my 16 year old go to someone's house without knowing for sure an adult will be there!

Would you leave your wallet or diamond unsupervised on the front seat of your unlocked car? Haven't you ever heard of limiting temptation?

Good Grief!

Posted by Teenager, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 21, 2007 at 8:15 am

I have only briefly scrolled down through many of the reactions of the users online, and I am astounded at what I'm reading.

I'm a teenager-- I'm social and like to have fun, but have never been compelled to do anything illegal. I have been able to find other enjoyable activities to do within the law and that are not pyshically harmful to myself and others nor do they impair my judgement in any manner.

I am satisfied that the city has finally decided to buck up and do something about it. I doubt that many parents (maybe some that have responded to this article) are aware of the severity of this issue-- because I am; I have unfortunately seen the devestating effects of it physically, academically, and socially.

I'm so disappointed that many parents think that these rules that hold them accountable for their children's actions rather than help improve their thus far inadequate job of monitoring their teenager's actions.

Just recently, I was having a discussion with a friend who wants to throw a party-- but doesn't want alcohol to be served. However, she is worried that her guests will not have fun, because of this overwhelming precedent that for a large party to be fun, there needs booze.

I think it's disappointing that these social pressures are present, and that even parents are becoming so jaded as to find it a social norm that we should all accomodate into our lives.

Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2007 at 8:37 am

Teenager, my kids had that same difficulty. The allegedly accepted method of throwing a party for their high school friends included serving alcohol, and they didn't want to do that, but they still wanted to have a party. One of my kids used to get a lot of chocolate milk, telling the attendees that the goodies in chocolate make you happy, and in ancient times were considered a mind-altering substance, so have some chocolate and you'll feel fine.

(Maybe you had to be there -- it was a funny line and pointed out the absurdity of the "Must Be Drunk To Have Fun" mantra.)

My kids knew the house rules, and knew the consequences for breaking them. They also understand the difference between a glass of wine with dinner and getting full-on drunk. I'm sure that, while at college, they attended parties where drinking was going on.

At my older kid's university, the fall term always included about 100 kids (mostly freshmen) ending up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. Over the years, a couple of them have died, usually from an accident (falling off a bridge, getting hit by a truck, etc.) that happened while walking under the influence. Really sad.

Teenager, what do you talk about with your parents regarding the culture of drunkenness?

Posted by hear, hear, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2007 at 8:53 am

Dear Teenager:

Thanks for your posting. Believe it or not, you are in the MAJORITY, despite what the "general wisdom" may say. As our social norms survey has shown, the MAJORITY of under 18 teens in our schools do NOT drink or do drugs.

Keep telling everyone that...and know that you are saving lives by not serving alcohol at parties.

BTW, my teen has been to several parties..and everyone had a great time and there was NO ALCOHOL.

Posted by disappointed, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Nov 21, 2007 at 8:55 am

Yes, parents are the people who should be setting the expectation. I am very disappointed that so many parents I know say "well, they all drink ( or have sex) anyway, so may as well accept it".

Bull-hockey! The majority DO NOT have sex or get drunk! Sometimes I think the parents are a bigger problem than the kids.

Posted by daughter of "compassionate" father., a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 21, 2007 at 9:00 am

I will never forget this lesson I learned. I was a virgin, despite tremendous social pressure, because I believed my parents expected me to respect myself enough to wait. Until one day when I was 17 I heard my father say "well, I understand if you do something, it seems to be typical now". Now I know he was trying to be the "compassionate liberal"..but instead I heard "oh well, give it up, it is hopeless to fight the tide"...and went on a self-destructive roll to "live up to" his expectation.

Parents, don't buy into the "you are going to do it anyway" only undermines your kids' will.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2007 at 11:32 am

Good Grief - would you leave the house when the friends are NOT in it? If so, how do you know the friends will not end up in it once you leave? Don't be quite so smug.

By the way, this isn't about saying 'kids will be kids' so just roll with it. This is about understanding in a very realistic way that kids are motivated to get drunk when they're this age, and figuring out how to dealing with it (and prevent it) in the most responsible and effective way. Some of the unrealistic stuff I've heard said by parents above (who think this is an issue of stress, or self-riteous "its someone elses kids" or "I would NEVER...' Not being realistic about when, where and why kids drink. Wake up and smell the coffee if you want to really keep your kids safe.

Posted by Former PA Student, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2007 at 11:33 am

Another parent:
Nobody said there wasn't any alcohol there before the kids came and crashed it. There was alcohol there, but it was intended to be a small party. Get your facts straight.

I'm glad not everybody thinks its the teenagers fault. That's what's wrong with this community. That's why I left Palo Alto, because I couldn't deal with how much hatred is in this community against teenagers. We're growing up. Deal with it. Alcohol may or may not play a role in a teenagers life. If you try and block it, it will make them want to drink more.

Posted by Deborah Kurland, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 21, 2007 at 12:21 pm

At this moment, I simply want to wish all of our on-line community members a healthy, safe Thanksgiving. Many years ago, our family suffered the effects of true alcohol addiction within our family. Today, we are all well and thriving. The reason I joined the Palo Alto Collaborative is because I have "real life" experience with this issue and because I am a medical social worker and have educated myself on all aspects of underage alcohol and drug use. Our Collaborative welcomes all of your thoughts and opinions and hope that more of you will become actively involved in our efforts. Our mission is to try to help reduce underage alcohol and drug use among minors and there are many strategies to do this. An Ordinance is just one measure. The most effective method is to have genuine, authentic open conversations with all family members. Whether or not addiction is present, careless and thoughtless use of alcohol and drugs can have devastating and irreversible effects. Too many of "all of our teens" are ending up in the emergency room with alcohol poisoning. How can we not be sensitive to this? However, I would also add the majority of our parents and teens are making good decisions and I thank those of you who recognize the intent of this Ordinance. I believe we all care about the safety of our teens and all community members. I sent blessings to all of you. Please come and join our Collaborative and become part of a solution. We welcome you. Gratefully, Deborah Kurland

Posted by Not-Really-Impressed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2007 at 2:18 pm

> An Ordinance is just one measure.

Sounds like there are more of these social engineering ordinances in the wind.

> The most effective method is to have genuine, authentic
> open conversations with all family members.

You mean like: "Ok, you can have a party. There will be no alcohol, or drugs. Anyone found with alcohol, or showing signs of having consumed alcohol, will be asked to leave. If the party gets to be troublesome--I will shuit it down and that will be the last party you will be allowed to host in this home!"

> Too many of "all of our teens" are ending up in the
> emergency room with alcohol poisoning.

It would be help in discussions like these to have the hospitals actually publish this sort of data so that we, the public, could have a credible source of information about this matter.

> The Palo Alto Collaborative is composed of the Palo Alto Unified
> School District, the Police Department, the Palo Alto Medical
> Foundation, the city Department of Recreation, Stanford
> Trauma Services, Adolescent Counseling Services,
> parents, students and community members

How many of these people are accountable to the public? Does this group have a WEB-site? Does this group post its minutes and a roster of its members, or does it effectively meet in secret?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm


I agree with you with one caveat.

Actually, if someone is found with alcohol or having had alcohol, their parents should be called to take them home. I do not want you pushing them out of the door straight into their cars to start driving home, or going somewhere else to drink their alcohol. If we can't call the cops, then we have to call their parents to deal with them.

Posted by Not-Really-Impressed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2007 at 5:34 pm

> their parents should be called to take them home. I do
> not want you pushing them out of the door straight
> into their cars to start driving home

You are absolutely correct! I have myself actually gone to parties where the daughters of friends of mine called me to help them get home.

If the parents couldn't be located, then the homeowner should take the young person home, or call a cab for the young person. Forcing an inebriated teen out the door only to find that the kid is involved in a car accident shortly thereafter would be bad for all.

Posted by smug, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2007 at 5:46 pm

My kids know full well the consequences of having kids over when I am not home without my permission. I know my kids, I know their friends, and they all know me. I know which one bears extremely guarded watching, and which one doesn't.

So, yes...I am quite smug about it. Or, in other words, I am completely confident that I am doing a good job. If I am not, and there ends up being a party in my house with alcohol, then I deserve the police on my case.

Posted by previous high school student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 21, 2007 at 6:55 pm

i never drank in high school and i cant even tell you how much **** i got for it! these days all the kids think "drinking is fun and it's the oooonly thing we can do on the weekends to have fun. basically we have no brains!". its so lame, im really dissapointed in what high school "fun" has become. everyone knows at the partys (and school dances--which should be the next problem to attack) that everyone (ok, 90%) will be drunk, have drank, or are on drugs. its rediculous. im surprised more DUI accidents with teenagers haven't occured. i wish kids would realize that their "drinking" buddies arent their true friends. basically, high school with all the drinking ruined probably 20 of my friendships. its LAME. and by the way, parents--- you dont even KNOW how bad high school is with all the drugs. i was shocked when i started high school and was more and more shocked everyday i went to school. don't think it doesnt happen because it does...... parents need to teach their kids to have their OWN brains and not go along with peer pressure to drink. i think ill invent new shirts like the got milk ones but it will say GOT BRAINS? ...good plan:)

Posted by drinking is fine, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 22, 2007 at 3:50 pm

previous highschool student, Drinking is fun and adds to the fun of everyone around. If it was not fun then people would not do it. You need to learn that kids need to be able to blow off steam during the weekends and I think that it is perfectly fine for kids who are juniors or seniors in highschool to go out and part and drink. But it needs to be safe and sometimes a parent around will make sure of that. I think you share the same stuck up view on kids as most of the other parents or older people do in this town. Relax and let kids have some real fun while they can and before the have major responibilities in life, like a family and job.

Posted by haha, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 22, 2007 at 6:38 pm

and "drinking is fun" you realize you're saying high school student drinking is ok.... How old are high school students? I'm sure they arent anywhere close to 21. Which means its illegal. I knew of 3 parents of kids who would have let their kids get drunk and have parties..... Parents AND students should be responsible.

Posted by teenager, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 22, 2007 at 8:24 pm

"Drinking is Fine",
You've got to be kidding me. The consequences of drinking are not isolated to--or even a few years within--teenage drinking.

The clear and present dangers of the health issues aside, drinking now WILL create habits that can and so often do lead to unstable homes, families, and jobs/work-habits.

You may call the majority of people who feel this way "stuck up" and you can call it whatever you'd like; but I would refer to myself as being a clear-minded realist with atleast some perception of the way the world works, as opposed to short-sighted and hungry for instant-gratification.

Posted by shaking my head, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2007 at 8:59 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Former PA Student, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2007 at 9:21 pm

haha, teenager, etc.

I'm assuming you've never, ever, EVER drank underage?

Posted by Wow, a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2007 at 9:23 pm

This is why I left palo alto. because of people in the community criticizing the teenagers. Jesus christ. Get off our backs. We drink because this city is highly stressful. We're stressed to do better than our best, because Stanford isn't good enough, and we're losers if we go to Foothill.

Posted by drinking is fine, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 22, 2007 at 9:40 pm

Did you two not read my whole post? I said drinking is fine if you are in a safe environment and I also did not say all high schoo students I said juniors and seniors. People need to learn to make decisions on their own and drinking enables kids to do that. It is horible parenting if you have a leash around your child and dont let him have fun or go out at nights. Not only is it crippling his self esteem but also his ability to be and think independantly. Teenager- You obviously are not a realist if you say "The clear and present dangers of the health issues aside, drinking now WILL create habits that can and so often do lead to unstable homes, families, and jobs/work-habits." Dont say WILL you asume that it happens 100% of the time which it does not. Also are completely wrong in saying that you know how the world works. If you did you would understand that drinking is part of adolescents in all cultures around the world. And haha- Do you think it is responsible knowing that a your child is going to be drinking some way or another and you not being able to have an open relationship to either talk about it or to be in touch to be sure they are not in trouble? Also our legal system is way behind times when it comes to alcohol. Are you old enough to remember "Jim Crow" laws back in the day. Those were legal and our justice sytem stood by them for a while no matter how horrific the tradegies were. Please do not paint everything in legal or illegal and think for yourself a little bit.

Posted by EAP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2007 at 10:53 pm

That the issue of teen drinking parties is even up for discussion indicates there is something very wrong with parental priorities in Palo Alto, as well as a LOT of ignorance about the danger of DRUGS, of which alcohol is one.

There is a LARGE difference between offering a glass of wine or beer to a teen at dinner - i.e. modeling moderation at home - and encouraging that teen to have her friends over for a party at which alcohol is made available.

Read these links for the sad news about teen drinking. The fact that we have so much drug use among teens indicates that something is WRONG with their environment.

Anyone in support of teen drinking should read these links, and wake up...

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Posted by Wow, a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2007 at 1:00 am

EAP, it might show that there's "ignorance" and "parental priorities."

You're right about the environment. What drives kids to drink? Nobody thinks about that. You're right in saying there's something wrong with the environment. That thing is:


What drives kids to drink?

-Stress from school.
-Stress from parents.
-Stress from that school across the street from Palo Alto High School.

I graduated last year. Guess how I dealt with my stress? You got it. I also reduced my stress by not taking any APs throughout my entire high school career. Don't just assume facts, actually think about stuff, and factor in WHY teenagers drink, NOT who's fault it is.

Alcohol problems come from consuming a LOT of alcohol. Just because a teenager drinks, doesn't mean they're going to grow up later in life as an alcoholic.

Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 23, 2007 at 3:13 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The "I have to drink because I'm under soooooo much STRESS," is just baloney. It's a stupid excuse someone dreamed up a few years ago, and now all the kids who want to drink parrot the line.

You don't HAVE to drink to have fun. Use that huge brain and get more creative.

I was in high school in the late 60s/early 70s. There were drugs all over the place -- mostly pot, but also psychedelic substances and some other homemade/homegrown items. Kids drank too. I was very involved in music, drama and athletics in high school, and most gatherings of any of those groups featured a lot of booze and drugs. I said, "No thanks," to all the opportunities to engage and was not criticized for it. Or if I was, I let it roll off and it didn't affect my choices.

I could go through all the stress I lived with as a teenager, but I won't bore you with that stuff. I grew up near here, and believe it or not, kids in the 60s/70s also had high expectations placed upon them.

I have a sibling who ended up in jail because of drugs. I have another who got pregnant, dropped out of high school, and had a baby because of booze. I have another who was in the 70s version of rehab because of booze AND drugs. (Alcoholic parents who modeled drinking behavior had a lot to do with their choices.)

I was the kid who thought being drunk looked stupid, so I chose not to. And it was OK.

I've been very involved with teens in the community in a variety of roles, and have found that most of them are interesting people who I enjoy being around. They hang out with me and come to my house even though I don't make alcohol available to them.

Booze is not required for friendships or fun. I'm sad that it's expected that kids "have to drink" to enjoy themselves.

Posted by EAP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Stress is real. That said, one of the things that is little known about stress is that stress is caused by one's *interpretation* of events.

We have really shortchanged our children's education by not teaching them very viable (and clinic-tested) means to deal with, cope with, and or eliminate stress.

Stress is in our perception of events, stress isn't inherent in the events themselves.

I guarantee everyone reading this forum that their stress is linked to one or more of the following cognitive distortions (this comes from very solid, well-controlled research).

the good news is that there are coping mechanisms available to deal with these distortions, and they are not difficult to learn. We should be introducing this sort of thing in the curriculum, with age-appropriate language, from kindergarten, on.

Posted by EAP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2007 at 3:40 pm

here's the cognitive distortion link
Web Link

Posted by Never-picked, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 24, 2007 at 10:10 am

EAP --

Thank you for the informative links. I'll be discussing the articles with all of my kids.

This type of sharing is the best thing about the TownSquare Forum.

Parenting is hard work, and staying up to date on all of the research and news and articles is nearly impossible. But maybe through this kind of sharing of information, and understanding and compassion for both parents and kids, Palo Alto would have less need for the 'social host' ordinance.

Thanks, again, EAP. You have made one aspect of parenting -- talking to my kids about the dangers of alcohol -- a little easier for me.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm

A good definition of stress and pressure, I heard recently.

Stress in your life is caused by what you choose to put in your life because you feel that it is what you can cope with and benefit from.

Pressure is when unforeseen problems with the stress in your life causes you to have to put in more than you expected.

For example, you got caught in traffic which made you late for a meeting or class which you expected to have no trouble getting to in time. This means that you have to catch up. Or, the homework essay which only needed some fine tweaking was lost in the computer or hyberspace, and you had to start again.

For all of us, students or adults, we put the stresses in our lives through choice. The pressures happen which we don't expect and turns our lives into misery.

What should we do? Put less stress in our lives in case things go wrong and we have the time for plan b and end up with less enrichment as a consequence, or deal with the pressures of plan b when they come. In either case, the reality of life is there. We have to deal with the stress because it is innate. The problems and pressures are power for the cause and have to be dealt with as plan b.

Posted by EAP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 24, 2007 at 9:52 pm


Here's a good definition of stress. There is a LOT of misinformation and urban mythology about what causes stress, but we *definitely* know that stress is caused primarily by one's *perception* of events. There is excellent research to support this contention.

Here's more information.

Web Link

I highly recommend the link on cognitive distortion, above. The list presented is used in clinics all over the world, and is itself based on two decades of hard clinical research.

Posted by student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 26, 2007 at 9:29 am

i cant believe there is so much arguing about the topic of stress.... there really is no reason to argue its a plain fact - students in palo alto are STRESSED to a huge extent because of the pressures from parents, friends, and even schools, to be the best (which means getting into stanford or cal). parents dont even understand why kids are freaking out about college acceptance letters so badly, but honestly if i didnt get into cal or somewhere else "that is a good school" my friends would tell me i was stupid. parents dont understand these pressures but the students sure do.... there have been THREE students who have committed suicide that i wen tto school with. the first was when i was in 8th grade, second in sophomore year in high school, and most recently... a few months ago once the student had gone away to college. does this ring any bells to you all? i just wanted to say this to let you all know kids ARE under stress but there is no reason why they NEED to drink. me and some of my friends have stayed straightedge (completely no drinking ever) and have been fine.... you dont NEED to drink to have fun, but i totally understand the stress conflicts students are going through which leads to excessive drinking habits. its discouraging that palo alto schools are setting their young adults up for this type of life..

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 26, 2007 at 10:02 am

This ordinance will hopefully make parents think twice about leaving their under age kids home alone for a weekend - which from my memories of HS was when most of the parties (planned or crashed) happened.

Posted by EAP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2007 at 11:07 am

" i just wanted to say this to let you all know kids ARE under stress but there is no reason why they NEED to drink. me and some of my friends have stayed straightedge (completely no drinking ever) and have been fine...."

There are clear individual differences and propensities that lead some to use mind-altering substances to relieve stress. Rather than take credit for not having to do drugs to deal with stress, in a way that tends to condemn those that do - we should realize that some individuals are more prone to stress-related diseases (including drug dependence). Knowing this, we can understand that efforts to reduce stress will have some measurable effect on THAT population, in a way that reduces disease and mortality, while also further enabling those who are least resistant to stress, so that their lives can be made more fulfilling.

Posted by student, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 26, 2007 at 11:25 am

EAP, i do understand your point but do you really think every kid who drinks has stress-related diseases... i just believe this community is quite unaware of the situation it puts us in as students... even traveling right outside of PA you can find tons kids who are "ok with going to a state school" unlike paly and gunn kids, who are only smart if they are accepted and attend freaking Yale, Stanford, or schools like that. its disappointing.

Posted by Do you want a police state?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 26, 2007 at 6:44 pm

Don't we have enough laws on the books today to deal with people who provide alcohol to minors. Yes, and the parents mentioned earlier were charged, convicted and fined accordingly. There are noise bylaws, public drunkeness bylaws, drinking underage laws. All of which can and are used to deal with these situations. We don't need more "ordinances" to allow the police to enter private residences and arrest people in the name of the "safety of Palo Alto residences".
On another note, there are some in this thread that have mentioned the phrase "until they are 18". Last I checked, the drinking age is still 21.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Do You

You mention an interesting point. A person is considered by law an adult at 18 and responsible for making their own decisions. The drinking age is 21. Apart from the fact that someone can die for their country, but not legally drink at 18, should their parents also be prosecuted for them breaking the law if they choose to drink in their parents' home. I think that one is a good one for expensive lawyers to argue over if the case is ever made!!

Posted by Paly77, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 17, 2007 at 12:23 pm

Could this spell the end of our basic traditions -
Thanksgiving, and Christmas dinners/party.
I really feel sorry for those who have spent millons on their over priced PA homes. NOT!
Just think - no dinner parties with friends, or family. No parties or social events at all!
Oh no! What will the wealthy do now!

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