A Falmouth couple faces criminal charges, and the rest of Maine is being reminded of a message that everyone should have gotten a long time ago.

Underage drinking is illegal, and adults who enable it, whether they actively assist or negligently ignore it, are committing a crime.

Barry and Paula Spencer, of Falmouth, have been charged with furnishing a place for minors to drink alcohol, a misdemeanor offense that carries a penalty of up to $1,000.

The Spencers haven’t had their day in court yet, and the state will have prove that they really allowed teens to drink on their property last Saturday night. If the police report is accurate, however, the couple will have some serious explaning to do.

Police say 35 to 40 cars were parked along Fieldstone Drive, where the Spencers live, and as many as 100 high-school-age revelers attended the party.

As bad as things ended up for the Spencers and their guests, it would have been much worse if one of the young partygoers had crashed a car and injured or killed himself or someone else.

That, however, is not the only bad potential consequence of teen drinking.

Underage drinkers are at a higher risk of drowning or being injured in a fight. They also are more likely to be a victim of a sexual assault than a teen who is not under the influence.

And lifelong consequences come from developing a habit of alcohol or drug use at an early age. That’s why the law prohibits teens from drinking, and why everyone in the community, not just law enforcement, has a responsibility to at least discourage, if not stop, kids from using alcohol or drugs.

Parents might think they do kids a favor by letting them celebrate with alcohol, but they are not. They might think that they help them by keeping them off the roads, but they just expose them to other dangers.

Parents who still are inclined to look the other way should remember that they are breaking the law, and they could find themselves in court some day.

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