Teenage parties set the stage for a collision course of wills between teenagers and parents.
The party scene is a major player in the culture of teenage drinking and creates an atmosphere where young children can be introduced to alcohol at an early age- often without the supervision or knowledge of the parent. It is also where parents play a large role in contributing to our teen drinking culture by either supplying alcohol to their teenagers to take to parties or hosting parties for underage teens and allowing BYO alcohol.
Unfortunately peer group pressure is often the most powerful influence in the decision making process in both parents and teens. Sometimes denial replaces common sense, ignorance replaces knowledge, and tragically, the risks that are posed to our teenagers can become a reality.
It all comes down to one common denominator: We want our kids to fit in, and most importantly we want them to like us. Parents also want to be liked and approved of by other parents. So it seems we are all on a never ending merry- go- round.
So your 15 year old comes home and asks if she can go to a party and take some alcohol because ‘all the other’ kids are!
Suddenly it feels like you have been hit with a bomb as you replay her words and mull over your decision. You manage to mumble a few words outlining your concern, but within a few minutes it’s all over as she runs to her bedroom, slams the door and protests that you are overprotective and she is mature enough and should trust you etc…….A feeling of impending doom descends.
You realise she is moving into a new phase of her life, the stage where having friends and being liked have become more important. Your gut feeling is saying no but you want a happy medium and your thoughts go round and round….. “Maybe if I just give her a couple of drinks to take to the party it will be ok?…. I’m sure it will be safe”.
You have just been bitten by the peer group pressure bug and experienced the common feelings of anxiety and guilt. It is a syndrome that affects many parents in our current culture and tragically a driving force behind our culture of teen drinking.
Here are some common myths that parents have about teenage parties and alcohol:
Let’s break this myth down in simple steps:
1) Unless you are physically present with your teenager you cannot be sure of what or how much they are drinking- Even with satellite webcam in place and security guarding the alcohol. Parties are very busy and so are hosts!
2) Be aware that if the parents hosting the party are allowing alcohol they could be also drinking themselves- leaving no responsible adult to look after the party.
3) ‘A couple of drinks’ –especially the popular alcopop variety, equates to 3 standard drinks. This will affect their ability to reason, think clearly and act in a safe manner and put them at risk of harm. -See Risks of Alcohol.
4) This may lead to further alcohol being consumed because reasoning and decision making are affected.
5) The safety of your child and others teenagers are put at risk because you are contributing to the supply of alcohol at the party. The opportunity arises for their alcohol to be shared or given to others for consumption which could result in another child being harmed as a consequence!
6) Consumption of alcohol in a party setting and without adequate supervision could lead to the possibility of taking other risks such as experimenting with other drugs or unsolicited sexual encounters
|Remember: Most teens are content not to drink alcohol at parties and actually feel more comfortable and safe in a non -alcohol environment. Peer group pressure is often the driving force behind their decisions. They need help and support from parents to set boundaries and keep them safe.|
A talk about alcohol is important and you may have the most trustworthy teenager who strives to make you proud; but when alcohol is consumed, all that could change because their capacity to think and act in a sensible manner and make safe and rational decisions is greatly affected.
This is because alcohol primarily targets the brain and nervous system. It dulls the senses and affects the clarity of thinking and judgement. In simple terms; it works just like an anaesthetic. This means decision making and reasoning are affected, inhibitions are lowered and risky behaviour is more likely. Alcohol also has physical effects- particularly with co- ordination. When consumed in large volumes it will affect the reflexes needed to protect the airway and swallowing as well as the signals from the brain that tell us to breathe.
This can result in breathing problems, including the risk of vomit being inhaled into the lungs. – These are all too common scenarios for our emergency services and hospital emergency departments and can result in death or injury.
Many parents sadly are unaware of the risks involved and probably think it will never happen to their child.
|Remember: A talk about alcohol is very important, but when you send your teenager off to a party with alcohol it is important to know that common sense and trust will stay at home and the risk of alcohol related harm follows right behind them.|
Click on links below for parenting tips.
Hosting a party for teenagers is a busy event. Adding alcohol to the menu can change the outcome and put guests at risk of alcohol related harm.
Here are some important points to consider:
• Adding alcohol can make the party unmanageable. The chances of the party getting out of control are increased. Including: gate crashers, property damage and dealing with intoxicated guests.
• Some of your guests may be younger which puts them at even more risk and promotes an environment where they falsely believe that alcohol is needed to have a good time or celebrate. They may also be pressured by peers to consume alcohol without the knowledge of the host or their parents.
• You cannot guarantee a safe and smooth running party. Alcohol can trigger volatile emotions, risky behaviour and even violence.
• Don’t be fooled that a ‘couple of drinks’ won’t hurt them or your other party guests. The new National Alcohol Guidelines recommend the safest option for the under 18 year age group is not to drink. This is based on scientific evidence of the risk of harm both short and long term.
• Do the other parents know that you will be allowing alcohol? Don’t assume that the guests have informed their parents. Be aware of your duty of care in making sure no minor is supplied alcohol without the parent’s knowledge and permission! Many states have introduced legislation for secondary supply of alcohol to minors. You could be charged with a criminal offence or have a civil law suit against you - See link below
|Remember: Teenage parties should be fun. Seriously consider the risks of having alcohol on the menu. You have a duty of care to your guests and although you may want to give in to peer group pressure- alcohol and kids just don’t mix and your party could turn from ‘fun’ to serious harm or tragedy.|
Some parents believe it is the safest option to introduce their child to alcohol at an early age. There is a false belief this will ‘get them used to it’ and therefore make it less likely to have problems with alcohol later in life. This could not be further than the truth.
The early introduction of alcohol does not offer any protection or set the child up for a pattern of sensible drinking in later years. Research has proved quite the opposite effect and has shown that they are at more risk of developing problems with alcohol later in life.
|Remember: The safest option is to delay the introduction of alcohol for as long as possible|
It is hard to compare different generations. Our young people today have grown up with an already established drinking culture. Add to this the enormous surge in technology, advertising, our changing world, busy lifestyles, expectations and worries about our global problems today, and the stage has been set for a totally different experience.
Alcohol problems will never be wiped out, but for our young generation; things are definitely different. Parents have also moved the mark when it comes to underage drinking and are allowing and encouraging a culture of early introduction of alcohol-especially in the teenage party scene.
The research is showing without doubt that kids are consuming alcohol earlier, more frequently and in larger volumes leading to proven alcohol related harm. This has been shown in the effects to brain and emotional development as well as the rise in Ed admissions, emergency service responses and increased admissions to alcohol treatment sectors.
|Remember: Our young generation are growing up in a culture that is vastly different from our childhood. We cannot make the same comparisons as parents today have moved the mark when it comes to underage drinking.|
Click on link below for some Fun Party Ideas
Click below for details on Party Safe and registering your party.
Barwon Safe Parties (Geelong Region)