It's a huge achievement in a student's life. Walking across stage to receive their diploma.
But sometimes those celebrations can lead to poor decisions. Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks says communication is key to ensuring your child stays safe.
"Starting to talk to your child at an early age is a good idea and discuss the peer pressure as far as it comes to drinking and sex and drugs. I think you need to sit down and talk to your child about that and at an early age start a communications dialogue between you and your child," says Sheriff Mincks.
Nearly 2 years ago a deadly fight broke out at a graduation party in Belpre.
Lamar Wilder was stabbed in the leg and bled to death. Officials say the two kids involved went to rival high schools.
"People from one school coming and the party is for kids from another school and they may be rivals and they may have fights or things start out. And this once again is what happened to us down there," says Sheriff Mincks.
The parents who hosted that party served 6 months in prison for providing alcohol to minors. But the dangers of underage drinking don't end when the party does.
In fact, it increases if those students get behind the wheel.
"And that age group of 15-20 is very vulnerable for traffic accidents. In fact they are responsible for about 20% of all traffic accidents we have even though they don't make up that much of the population," says Sheriff Mincks.
Parents shoulder much of the responsibility and will be held accountable if things go wrong.
"There's a difference between being a friend and being a parent. And you can be friends with them but when it comes down to the bottom line you have to be the parent. and the parent is the one that's responsible," says Sheriff Mincks.
Ohio law states that parents can give alcohol to their underage children, but not someone else's child.
Sheriff Mincks says if alcohol is served to minors at a graduation party it's against the law.
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