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Teenage Party Guide for Parents and Teens

Minors and alcohol are a dangerous combination. Every year, countless minors run afoul of the law in alcohol related incidents, lose their driver's license, hurt themselves and others, and sometimes lose their lives. It is the position of the Hillsborough Police Department that all violations of the law involving minors and alcohol will be vigorously enforced for the well being of all citizens.

With this in mind, we would like you to take a few minutes to go over this information which we have prepared as an informational resource in the areas of teen parties, minors in possession of alcohol, driving under the influence, as well as non-driving related alcohol violations.

Parties are a vital part of teenagers' lives for socializing, relaxing and entertainment. Yet all too often a poorly planned party can have unwanted, even tragic, consequences. This guide was compiled and researched by parents, students, school administrators and representatives of police departments. It is intended to be read and referred to often. Comments are welcome.

"John" drank mostly on weekends, mostly beer. He drank to be sociable. He was just like everyone else in his group at high school. Early one Saturday morning, "John" died. His blood alcohol concentration was found to be 0.434%, well above the 0.080% most states consider legally drunk. "John" was 15 years old...

In our society, it is no longer just a few "deviant" teens that use alcohol and other drugs. Today, the teen that does NOT drink or take drugs is often made to feel left out. There are many pressures on youth to use alcohol and other harmful drugs: pressure from singers, actors and athletes, the daily bombardment from television and other media messages promoting alcohol and other drugs to give pleasure or reduce pain. The strongest pressure, however, comes from the teen's own peers.

Parents suffer from another kind of pressure. How many parents have felt helpless and alone when trying to provide guidelines for their teens? How many feel that society's temptations is a greater influence than their own parental direction? It is tempting for parents to expect schools, the police or some other outside agency to solve the alcohol/drug problem, but - while these agencies can and do help - the basic guidance must come from within the home.

Teenagers deserve to live and grow to adulthood in an environment where alcohol and other drugs are not misused. Don't allow yourself to fall for the old tactic, "But all the other parents let their kids do it." Some parents do compound the problem by permitting their minor children - and their children's friends - to drink at home; this can only add to the teenager's confusion about the acceptability of under-age drinking.

The purpose of this information is to help parents guide their teens at times when there is the most pressure to drink - when hosting or attending parties.

Admittedly, it is not easy to follow all these guidelines. And, of course, each family should consider them in the light of its own values. If parents seriously attempt to establish reasonable standards, the entire community will benefit. Please take this opportunity to join with others to provide a healthy atmosphere in which our teens don't need alcohol or other drugs to have fun.

Guidelines for Parents of Teenagers Hosting a Party

1. Set the ground rules with your teen before the party.

  1. Let your teen know what you expect
  2. It is important to stress shared responsibility for hosting the party.
  3. This will give both of you a good opportunity to express feelings and concerns

2. At least one parent should be at home during the party.

  1. Carefully decide what part of the house will be used for the party. Pick a spot where the guests will be comfortable and where you can maintain good supervision.
  2. A parent can bring in snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. Not only will your presence help keep the party running smoothly, but it will also give you an opportunity to meet your teen's friends.
  3. Teens frequently party at home when their parents are away. If you must be away, make arrangements for quality supervision to ensure protection for you and your teen.

3. It is illegal to offer drugs to anyone or to offer alcohol to anyone under 21. You may be brought to court on criminal charges and/or be made to pay large damages in a civil lawsuit if you furnish alcohol to minors.

  1. Be alert to the signs of alcohol or drug use by teens.
  2. Guests, who try to bring in alcohol or drugs, or otherwise refuse to cooperate with your expectations, should be made to leave. Be willing to call the police if unwanted guests refuse to leave.
  3. Notify the parents of any teen who arrives at the party drunk or high on drugs to ensure the teen's safe transportation home. Do not let anyone drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

4. Notify the police when planning a large party.

  1. This will help the police protect you, your guests and your neighbors.
  2. Discuss with police an agreeable plan for guest parking.

5. Notify your neighbors that there will be a party.

  1. Encourage your teens to call or send a note to neighbors telling them about the party.

6. Limit party attendance and times.

  1. Small groups are easier to handle.
  2. Make a guest list and send invitations beforehand. Party crashing should not be allowed.
  3. Set time limits for the party that enables teens to be home at a reasonable time.
  4. Avoid open-hour parties. It is difficult for parents and teens to keep control over this type of party.

7. Guests should not be allowed to come and go.

  1. This will discourage teens from leaving the party to drink elsewhere and return.

8. Other ideas:

  1. Avoid easy access to alcohol in your home.
  2. Plan to have plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages on hand.
  3. It is vital for parents to get to know their teen's friends and their parents.
  4. Consider the importance of alerting other parents to any teen alcohol or drug problem that might affect their children.
  5. Encourage shared chaperoning.
  6. Parents and teens should understand beforehand that the above guidelines are in effect at all parties. Parties can occur spontaneously. Spontaneous and "open" parties are more difficult to control than planned parties.
  7. If, despite all precautions, things get out of hand, do not hesitate to call the police.

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