From the Principal – 31 May 2018
Safe Partying (for Senior School parents particularly)
Adolescence is a time for stretching boundaries and as young people work to define their identity, experimentation is a part of the process for most. Schools and parents must work together to ensure that the safety nets for the young people as they experiment are there so that physical or mental harm can be minimized or wherever possible, eliminated. While the School runs programs to assist with risk minimization and maximizing safe behaviours, it is appropriate to communicate current thinking and possible resources regularly with families.
For any parent with children under 18 there are often pressures to host parties for their children and their friends. Over decades of working with families, I have learnt the following: The line that “but everyone else is doing it” is actually untrue. Young peoples’ perceptions of what other young people are getting up to are generally much more extreme than the actual data indicates. Likewise the line “but so-and-so’s mum lets him/her do it” are also often untrue and a quick call to the relevant parent will usually clear up a misconception.
Another thing I have learned is that what is deemed acceptable by one family is not considered so in another. I have seen much frustration and anger when assumptions are made regarding either expectations of supervising parents at parties or what is permissible or not. A good friendship between parents should not be ruined by a children’s party!
In summary, most issues may be resolved by communication: communication of families with their own children when planning an event and families communicating with other families with regards to expectations prior to the event.
I thought it timely to share some thinking on the parameters for hosting such events and how to manage some of the potential pitfalls. Please note that there are laws in Victoria that prohibit the provision of alcohol to other people’s children without explicit parental permission.
Please find below some links I hope you find useful so that any event is safe, happy and fun.
Ms Annette Rome
For expediency, I have pulled out a key section relating to alcohol at parties from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website: https://adf.org.au/alcohol-drug-use/teenagers/safe-partying/hosting-a-teenage-party/
Making a decision
When deciding whether to serve alcohol, consider the Australian alcohol guidelines which recommend people under the age of 18 should avoid alcohol.
If you do decide to serve alcohol, perhaps at an 18th birthday party, remember that most states and territories in Australia have secondary supply laws. This means that it is illegal for you to serve underage guests alcohol without their parent or legal guardian’s permission, even if the party is in your home. It is also illegal for guests to pass underage guests alcohol without this permission. Hefty fines apply for both adults and minors.
If you do provide alcohol at the party it’s a good idea to:
- Tell parents ahead of time
- Set up an agreement between yourself and your child about alcohol and adult supervision
- Make sure no one under 18 years is served or given alcohol unless you have their parent’s explicit approval
- Only make alcohol available from one area, and have a responsible adult who is not drinking as the bartender
- Only serve low-alcohol drinks, make sure great non-alcoholic options are on hand
- Avoid drinks like punch that could be easily spiked
- Ensure there’s lots of food and that people can see it or that it’s being offered around, but try not to serve very salty snacks as they make people thirsty and could cause people to drink more
- Plan for guests to sleep over if no one can take them home
Confiscating alcohol and drugs
Even if you decide not to serve alcohol, you might have to deal with guests trying to bring alcohol and drugs into the party. Talk to your child about whether you will confiscate alcohol and drugs, including what you’ll do with these substances.
If you chose to return what has been confiscated after the party is over, you could still be held liable for any accidents that happen after the guests have left. You can consider the option of instead returning the substance to the guest’s parent.