As our communities struggle to cope with the rise of teen parties, we now have a popularity contest:
100 guests (or more) is the new way to be cool and hip!
Yes, teen parties are getting bigger. I’m now regularly speaking to parents planning 150+ guest events for kids as young as 14!
Yesterday I spoke with a father planning a 200-guest 18th. I naturally assumed this was a double birthday.
Wrong! His daughter is just really really popular.
Whatever happened to ‘one guest for each year of your life?!’
Last weekend I did two parties. One was for a 16-year-old (140 kids). The other for an 18-year-old (150 kids).
As usual, the ‘dry’16th in a lovely, up-market, bayside suburb proved the more eventful and difficult to handle.
Money sure doesn’t buy class – especially with events this big. Instead, you need 3 professional security staff and a ratio of 1 (sober, responsible) parent to every 10 kids.
This is extremely important. While you can get away with a ratio of 1:20 in smaller events, big parties are much greater than the sum of their parts.
Parents and security, working in concert, are absolutely vital. Among their many responsibilities, they must:
- Staff every door, window and other entry and point. (Gatecrashers are like rats; they can get in anywhere.)
- Cloak all bags. (Some are the size of suitcases: 60% are filled with alcohol.)
- Detect kids smoking cannabis in toilets. (Yes, Mum and Dad, your darling babies really do use drugs.)
- Patrol grounds and move on kids drinking in bushes and dark spots.
- Catch and evict kids trying to enter under false names.
As you do all this, you can expect to see teens swearing and abusing parents, neighbours, security staff, police, passers by and each other.
Teens in groups with a few drinks on board believe they’re invincible and often want to ‘take on’ adults en masse.
Yet every time I witness this outside a venue, the parents of the mob are nowhere to be seen.
If you’re a parent wishing for a safer (more fun, less litigious) event, here’s what to do:
- Keep guest numbers below a manageable 100.
- Even if it’s an alcohol-free event, expect most kids to bring booze in bags and cloak them accordingly.
- Expect half the guests to ‘pre-load’ on grog before they rock up. If you see them gathering in groups or loitering under trees outside your venue, that’s what they’re doing.
- Expect gatecrashers. And fear them. A crowd of drunk boys has no respect for adults – quite the opposite. So think twice about approaching them, as they’ll likely attack you as an authority figure.
Lastly, why does any child under 18 even need a boozy party?
Alcohol-fuelled celebrations for minors are not mandatory.
Go cart racing.
Go to a movie.
Do whatever else it takes to talk your child out of the worst decision they may ever make.
And if you think I write this blog just to flog my security business, think again.
I have no desire see your precious teen paralytic, assaulted and face-down in dog shit.
Nor should you.
Naomi Oakley, Founder, Safe Partying Australia.