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Is underage drinking ever OK? Cereal malt exceptions in Kansas

Make no mistake: Kansas's liquor laws are some of the strictest in the country, and anyone who tells you otherwise has likely been misinformed. But your teenager may have heard that Kansas lets people under 21 drink in some situations.

Understanding where Kansas draws the line is important to keep your kid (and you) out of trouble. Here's what you need to know.

First, your teenager should understand that it is almost always against Kansas law for people under 21 to drink, possess or purchase alcohol, and it's also almost always illegal for adults to give alcohol to minors. The only exception comes when all of the following are true:

  • The beverage is a cereal malt beverage, with 3.2 percent alcohol or less by volume;
  • The beverage is given to the minor by their parent or legal guardian; and
  • The parent or legal guardian approves of and supervises the minor's consumption.

This exemption is very narrow. For one thing, there simply aren't that many alcoholic beverages that fall below the 3.2 percent line. It's also important to note that this only applies when parents or guardians give cereal malt beverages to their own children. That means that you and your spouse are the only adults who can give these beverages to your children, and you can't give them to any minors other than your own children.

Even good kids are often tempted to drink alcohol before they are legally allowed to, and some parents prefer them to do so in a supervised setting. But it's important that you and your children know where the legal boundaries are - and what the consequences can be for breaking them.

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