Not So Sweet 16
Kids are getting lit.
I’ve long said that, when it comes to alcohol, 16 year olds are our trickiest group.
In the last six months, things have become worse.
This is a damn shame, as the solutions are straightforward and doable.
All we need is the will.
Kids are preloading on hard liquor (e.g. Vodka and Absinthe) minutes before entering a party.
The last two 16th gigs I did saw around 10% of guests passing out in toilets, on ovals and elsewhere.
They had to be carried out of the event.
I called their parents – some of whom arrived to see paramedics working on their kids.
If this wasn’t confronting enough, some children ended up in hospital.
Take a seat
I now have a policy with all parties that at least ten chairs must be set up at the front of the premises.
Kids who are visibly affected by a substance are seated and observed for 20 minutes.
If they go downhill, we ask their parents to collect them.
Most out-of-control teen parties we see in the media result from too much alcohol and not enough responsible serving.
Secondary supply law says an underage child at a party must bring a parental note to drink alcohol. I believe at least half of these notes are forged.
The law doesn’t ensure alcohol management or consumption is managed by a person with a relevant Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA) certification.
There’s no point if an adult serving alcohol doesn’t have experience or RSA.
I therefore believe the law should state that RSA applies.
Duty of care
Some hosts think that if a kid has written permission to drink at their event, their duty of care ceases.
I believe every host has a duty of care to everyone attending their event. If you let anyone get intoxicated on your premises, you’ve breached that duty.
You see, even if a host has the best intentions, an intoxicated guest can:
- Create havoc.
- Injure themself or others on or beyond the property.
- Be sexually assaulted or hit by a car.
Hosts need to persuade intoxicated guests to seek alternative transport. Or provide safe transport options when they leave the event.
The irony of ‘dry’
Kids go to extraordinary lengths to smuggle booze – hiding it in places you don’t want to know.
In the last year, I’ve had more issues at ‘dry’ events than parties where alcohol is permitted under secondary supply law.
If your child is from a group that’s already partying, it may be safer to let them drink alcohol under secondary supply law via a properly managed bar with a qualified RSA bar person.
I’ve found that at these parties, kids are much less likely to preload, smuggle, scull and pass out.
More of my clients are choosing to have a U-Nome bar person at their events. These staff have RSA accreditation plus extensive experience with teen parties.
Naomi Oakley, Founder, Safe Partying Australia.
Pic by Antti Jauhiainen.