Alcohol Policy for Participants in the USA
The safety and well-being of our participants is AFS’s highest priority. Working to ensure the safety of a participant requires a partnership between the participant and the host family, in compliance with AFS policies and laws in the host country.
Embarking on an AFS Program in the U.S. implies agreement with the following alcohol policies. Failure to abide by these policies is considered to be irresponsible behavior, a threat to the safety of the AFS Participant, and potentially damaging to the integrity of the program.
Failure to comply with these policies will be considered grounds for Early Return.
1. Use of alcohol in the United States is regulated by state and federal law. Although U.S. federal law states that no one under the age of 21 may publicly possess or purchase alcohol, state laws regarding the consumption of alcohol by a minor (anyone under 21) vary.
Some U.S. states maintain zero tolerance laws, meaning that no alcohol can be consumed or possessed by anyone under the age of 21. Other U.S. states allow consumption if it is in a private home. Likewise, many states prohibit serving alcohol to minors in the home. No matter where an AFS Participant is hosted in the United States, breaking any laws is strictly prohibited. The breaking of any state or local law concerning alcohol may be a reason to be removed from the program and returned home. In such cases, a hosted participant may face the possibility of arrest and/or deportation if these laws are not obeyed.
It is important that participants have a clear understanding of the laws of the state and community in which they are living. Please inform your participant of your views on underage drinking, your family’s rules, and U.S. and state laws and how these will affect them.
2. Any abuse of alcoholic drinks, such as binge drinking, and inappropriate behavior related to drinking alcohol is not allowed while on an AFS Program in the United States and is grounds for early return. Any arrest or suspension from school for alcohol use is also grounds for early return.
AFS is aware that there are U.S. American high school students who abuse alcohol and binge drink. It is important that AFS Participants understand that alcohol abuse is not acceptable behavior while on the AFS-USA Program. Alcohol abuse includes: frequent/regular alcohol consumption; excessive alcohol consumption in one session; and binge drinking. Should participants abuse alcohol or binge drink, they can potentially place themselves or others in danger. This behavior will not be tolerated on the AFS Program. Involvement with friends and/or schoolmates who abuse alcohol can also put an AFS Participant's program at risk. If participants find themselves in an environment where this is occurring, they should ask their host family or liaison for assistance.
Experienced Host Family Advice: We found enforcing a curfew unpopular but necessary since many European teens are used to staying out much later and drinking. It was very helpful to have iron clad AFS rules about drinking.