Parents responsible for many cases of underage drinking

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Police say underage drinking hasn't gone away. But who's to blame is the changing factor. Parents are becoming one of the biggest dealers for their kids.

The party scene is attractive to kids of many people, of age and underage. Leading to arrests right here in the Tri-Cities. But aside from kids using fake ID's to get their hands on alcohol, police say parents are providing the booze.

"Why would parents do that? It's illegal! It's the worst thing they could possible do for their children...and then probably turning them loose out in the community," said parent Victor Weil.

Victor and Clara Weil spoke for the majority of parents KEPR spoke with on the issue. The Weils have four kids, and enforcing the rules was a huge part of their upbringing. They can't imagine parents acting otherwise.

"It's just unfathomable to me. I cannot think of anyone who would want to do that for their kids," said Clara.

But Richland tells KEPR, legal adults providing alcohol is a growing problem. In 2012, Richland Police arrested 50 minors for drinking just from July to September. There were 40 arrests this past year during those same months.

In Pasco, they had far less, ten in 2012 and just four in the same summer time period.

Kennewick provided the total calendar year, which was 90 arrests for minors drinking in 2012, and 43 up to this point in 2013.

"Don't encourage and condone illegal activity by juveniles. It's illegal for a reason," said Captain Mike Cobb, Richland Police Department.

Captain Cobb isn't sure why parents would do this. He calls it a flawed thought process, and suggests maybe the parents were raised this way and don't see the harm. But he compares it to a parent and child partnering up to go steal together.

"There's a certain age that it's legal to drink and that's 21 and if you're under that and someone is providing, then they are absolutely in the wrong and they're breaking the law," said Victor.

Victor and Clara also point out the liability factor. Parents can be held responsible for their child's safety or their child's behavior if they've been drinking.

Of the dozens of cases of minors drinking in Richland, Captain Cobb says legals had supplied the alcohol in the majority of the cases. He says police always cite the parents in those circumstances.