I’ve taken security briefs for hundreds of teen events.
There’s a moment at which I know I’m dealing with parents who are weak, stupid or both.
Here’s how it goes.
Parents ask me to visit their property to discuss safety and security measures. Their teenager is often present.
It all starts well as I walk them through my checklist:
- Physical issues of the venue.
- Guest list management.
- Police notification.
Everyone’s smiling and supportive.
Until we reach the topic of alcohol.
Cracking the sads
While vocally supporting my alcohol recommendations, the parent’s (hitherto constant) nodding becomes irregular.
The teen breaks eye contact with me and starts glaring at her parents – trying to get their attention.
I describe the best way to provide duty of care to guests: by labelling all alcohol for responsible adults to monitor and control.
The teen becomes sullen, acquires the “cat’s bum look” and stares fiercely at the floor with arms crossed.
I leave the home knowing that at this party, the tail will wag the dog.
NOT a good thing!
Ruining the roost
Within two days, the parents backflip and decide to follow their child’s wise alcohol recommendation: to let all kids bring and drink all they want.
From this moment, the party is doomed.
All that remains is for me, my staff (and perhaps the media) to witness the carnage.
Here’s a breakdown of a recent breakdown. This account is true (and indicative of dozens more).
Countdown to destruction
Guests bring vast amounts of alcohol. Parents are amazed at how much is coming onto their property. (REALLY!)
At about 11 pm, teens start to stagger round the grounds.
A few fall face-first into dog crap.
More start spewing party pies and fairy bread (in that order).
By the time my team and I take control, we have ten teenagers in a room hugging buckets and throwing up.
The parents actually think it’s … FUNNY. That emptying buckets of vomit is laughable. A reaction which, being a parent myself, is beyond my comprehension.
Towards night’s end, kids get abusive and want to fight us, the parents and each other.
At this point, the hosts demand that we risk injury by throwing out the very guests they’ve let get intoxicated; even if it means they may not make it home. Kids walking home from parties is another whole (horrific) post.
I find it tragic that parents who refuse to control alcohol or show duty of care also shirk their responsibilities when things turn ugly.
This entire situation can be avoided if parents get some backbone and stop trying to be their teen’s best friend.
It really isn’t rocket science:
- Their house.
- Their mortgage.
- Their rules!
I’m sure if the Coroner called you to explain why you let a teen get so drunk that she choked on her own vomit or died crossing the road, you’d wish you’d listened to me.
My advice isn’t designed to annoy people.
It’s to ensure parties are safe.
Duty of care is your responsibility.
The police can’t help you, as the new minor supply laws don’t cover BYO grog.
Naomi Oakley, Founder, Safe Partying Australia.