Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For This Parent It Could Be Jail Time

Just wanted to get your attention! I have another ripped from the headlines story for you. This past Saturday night a loving mother agrees to host a party for her teenage daughter and her friends. At 11:05 PM, the local cops show up after getting complaints from the neighbors that there was a loud party and kids were outside throwing beer cans out of their cars, and that the street was completely parked up with 15 to 20 cars.  When the police entered the house, the mother acknowledged there was a party with alcohol, and that the teens had cars and would be driving home. ( I know, what was she thinking?) Mother leads the cops down to the basement, where they find booze and after an initial chaotic "running of the teens" the cops corralled 30 kids ages 15-18 from 17 different towns. (these kids go to a private school which draws kids from a wide swath.)  Many more teens escaped through a basement door, making a mad dash for their cars, speeding away from the house and away from the law. The "detainees" parents were called to come and pick up their teens. The mother was arrested for violation of the social host law, that states that if there is underage drinking with or with out knowledge of the parents they are held liable and responsible.

There are so many problems here, where do I start? The most obvious being this parent knowingly allowed her daughter and her friends to drink at her home. Not only were they allowed to drink, but the mother knew they would be driving, and not just around the corner. These were not kids from the hood. Some of these kids came from more than 20 miles away to party at this woman's house. Wouldn't you if you were a teen. How fun to be able to drink and party without interference, in a lovely, hassle free home.

Could this be any more unsafe? Even before the cops got there and the kids ran, this mother had no idea the condition of the kids partying at her home. Kids were coming in and out through the basement door. How easy it was for this mother to turn a blind eye. If you don't see it, you don't have to deal with it. I'm guessing she was up in her room, door closed, TV on, oblivious to the shenanigans down below. 

What to do? First if you allow your teen to have a party at your home, make sure there is one way in and one way out. That means any other egresses are locked for the night. This way kids are forced to see the parents, who can check for safety and inebriation. Also parents should set a limit with their partying teen for the number of kids they feel comfortable supervising, as well as a guest list. This way parents can keep track of invited guests, versus party crashers. Parents, do not hang up in your bedroom. Force yourself to go up and down the stairs with pizza, brownies, etc. These should be the rules and expectations when your kids request permission to party at your house. Kids will sneak stuff in, but it will be your job to keep it at a minimum. Any teen who looks compromised in any way and is driving, should be detained until picked up by a parent. PERIOD!

How about if your teen is a guest at a party? Here is your "I Get It" moment. First tell them the story I just told you. and say: "I know you might find yourself at a party like this, where parents might be home, but choosing to stay clueless about what's going on. This scares the sh** out of me. Once kids start drinking, any rational thinking goes down the tubes. Thank god the kids who ran to the cars buzzed didn't get into any accidents. Just by the grace of god. Please let's have a system in place so that you can get yourself out of this situation in a safe way. That is the most important thing to me. I love you, and couldn't bear it if something happened to you running away from a party like this. "

This message should be on a continuous loop. You can't say it enough. As you can see, having parents home is no guarntee that there will be supervision. The ironic coda here is that this mom had signed a "Safe House" agreement that states that they will not allow teens to use alcohol in their homes. Parents at the school are given a list of parents who sign this agreement so they can feel some sense of security sending their kids to homes who have signed this agreement. I guess not!

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