Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Teen Party Pitfalls

Two doctors from New Hampshire are facing charges from a party they hosted for their teenage daughter.

They thought they were doing the right thing by being present at the party and making it clear that alcohol and drugs would not be tolerated. They had their daughter say this explicitly in the invitation and claim to have made several announcements during the party—which they chaperoned—that there would be no drinking or drug use.

But later in the evening, while they were playing ping pong in the basement with some of the kids, the police showed up and found a backyard strewn with beer cans.
"It's a really terrible thing. We feel really horrible. Obviously, we're responsible. We're the adults there. But we didn't procure the alcohol. We didn't condone it and we, three different times, said 'Zero tolerance,'" Boyd said.
He said his daughter is "mortified," because she was trying to do something nice for her friends. He said he and his wife have replayed events over and over in their minds and their big mistake was saying yes to the party in the first place.
Weare police said there were so many people under 21 at the party that they had to call in officers from four other towns to help.
This perfectly illustrates the need for strict supervision and adult attention to young peoples’ parties. Because, under Maine law, the parent in question could still be charged—and liable for injuries and damages if anyone gets hurt—even if they weren’t aware that kids were drinking at the party.

We have some suggestions below for hosting safe teen parties. It sounds like the NH parents followed some of these rules, but that they missed some important cues about their guests’ behavior. (More tips here).

Make it a great party by planning for everything…
  • If you are expecting more than 10 teens per adult, ask for volunteer chaperones.
  • Decide on a guest list. Give your teen a maximum number to invite and set an age limit for guests. Make sure to keep a copy of the guest list for your records.
  • Send invitations! Have your teen inform his/her guest that the party is by invitation only.
  • Set a party time, inclusive of a start and end time.
  • Inform parents/guardians about the party and explain your expectations of partygoers. No alcohol!
  • Have parents or responsible adults drop off and pick up teens. If teens drive to the party, plan to hold all keys to eliminate the temptation of leaving and returning to the party.
  • Stay at the party. Your presence is important. Walk through the party area frequently. Have additional adult supervision on-site during the party.
  • Ask all uninvited guests to leave immediately. If necessary, call the police to escort unwanted guests out.
  • If you suspect a teen guest is intoxicated, contact his or her parents/guardians immediately.
  • Have guests remain in the party location; do not allow teens to go back and forth to a parking lot or their car.
  • Hold the party in an area you can monitor party guests from inside and outside.
  • Watch for strange behavior. Pay attention if a guest frequents the bathroom after getting a drink. This could indicate the use of illegal substances or alcohol.

From Parental Guide to Hosting Responsible Teen Parties Virginia Department of ABC Education Section.

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