I was asked to look after an 18th birthday in an Eastern suburb.
BYO alcohol and 140 guests.
As I always do before assigning staff to an event, I met the parents several days beforehand.
I inspected the property and noted some issues:
- Open pool in the party area.
- Neighbouring properties close by.
- Small backyard (especially given the big numbers).
Then I sat down with the parents to talk alcohol arrangements.
They said they hadn’t decided what they were going to do with the BYO alcohol.
I described the two main issues I continually face:
- Alcohol-fuelled violence.
I recommended that parents oversee the serving of alcohol, i.e. guests who bring alcohol hand it to parents, who then serve it responsibly.
I warned the parents that their teen would be annoyed at this security/safety measure and he’d probably convince them to let him and his friends drink as much as they wanted.
The parents said they supported my recommendation and confirmed that they were in charge.
The very next day, they sent this message:
‘We trust our child’s judgment and will let him be in charge of alcohol consumption.’
Up to this point, I had a controlled, safe environment for my staff and the guests.
The parents’ decision turned this into a volatile situation that may have required me to use (already overburdened) emergency services.
So who was in charge? The teen of course!
On the night of the event, I assigned three staff and myself.
The small space, open pool and large number of drinking teens made it very difficult for us to move around.
I was extremely concerned for the safety of the teens and my staff. While this particular party didn’t turn into a disaster, quite a few of the teens were intoxicated and extremely lucky to avoid injury.
On the same night, in a neighbouring suburb, police had to shut down a 15-year-old’s birthday party because of drunk guests.
When police asked the father why he had no security at all, he replied:
‘I thought that was your job.’
I have plenty of stories like this and it’s frustrating.
I’ve compiled a national list of parties that have turned bad for similar reasons. So far, I have 35 events that have hit the media.
This is the tip of the iceberg – perhaps only 35% of the true figures. Most out-of-control parties don’t get reported to the media.
Parents must learn that they’re in charge of parties. Not their kids.
Otherwise, they’re begging for trouble.
Naomi Oakley, Managing Director, U-NOME Security Communication Specialists.