Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's party time!! Mistakes a parent can make when throwing a party for teenagers.

Recently my daughter went to a birthday party for one of her friends turning 16. It turned into a disaster because of what the parents who were holding the party called "their rookie mistakes".
These are conscientious parents who were trying to provide a fun and alcohol free party for their daughter.  Here's where they went wrong:

The dad started out at the front door and checked kids in as they entered the party. Once they were in they were not allowed to leave and return. After a few hours, he figured everyone was there and left the door and wasn't paying attention to who was coming in. He trusted all the kids that were there already and didn't know that crashers always come late. Later in the evening, some kids who were uninvited came in (the parents were unaware) that's where the problems began.

When you have a big party:
  • You need to have an adult by the door THE ENTIRE NIGHT. Their job is to: 
    • Make sure that each person is actually invited to the party. 
    • Check that each person doesn't smell like alcohol.
    • Check any purses or big coats so that alcohol or drugs can't be carried in.
    • Make sure that no one leaves and re-enters the party.
  • You need at least one and preferably 2 parents walking around through the party the entire night checking to make you know exactly what is going on. Adult presence is a great deterrent. (At my daughter's big 18th birthday party, she invited a few girls she knew casually from one of her classes. After 20 minutes they left and the person manning the door overheard them say- this party sucks- there's no booze or anything- That's exactly what you want  to hear!!!!!)
  • Lock doors to rooms where you don't want kids to go and make it clear where the party is and where people aren't supposed to go. Make sure to check the off limit areas when you do the walk throughs.
Later in the evening the police came to the door. The police officers said that a neighbor had complained about the noise and could they come in to talk with him about the situation.  The dad said sure and invited them in to talk.
  • Let me be very clear and say that I fully support the police and so appreciate the very dangerous and difficult job that they do keeping us all safe and keeping our kids safe BUT.........
If police come to your door when you are holding any kind of a party (or any time) and ask to come in to talk, politely say, "I'd be glad to talk to you but, I don't want you coming in, let's talk outside on the street." Don't ever invite them into the house.  And don't say, I'd prefer you not come in, it's too ambiguous. Say "I don't want you in the house." They may ask you if you're trying to hide something but stand firm and just say no I just want to talk out on the street. Here's why- At this party, the parents were not aware that a small group of kids (4) had entered the party uninvited and they were drunk when they got there. They had alcohol in their car and then came in to the party. When the parent invited the police in, that gave them permission to look around.  
  • The law says that a police officer that spots something in plain view does not need a search warrant to seize the object or begin investigating. In order for a plain view search to be legal, the officer must be in a place he has the right to be in and the object (or situation) he seizes (or tickets) must be plainly visible in this location. 

While the police and parents were talking, a kid staggered a little, in plain sight of where the officers were, and it was over. The police sealed off all the doors and kept everyone in the house. They then spent the next 3 hours breathalizing every single kid (and the parents) at the party including making the 8 year old sister, who was in bed sick, come down and be tested! They'd blocked the street with their cars and wouldn't allow anyone whose cars were blocked to leave, even if they had no alcohol on their breath. The 4 kids that had alcohol in their system were ticketed and the parents of the party were ticketed for allowing intoxicated minors on their property- even though they were unaware of it and had not provided any alcohol. 

Parents are liable for any underage drinking or drug use takes place on your property even if you're unaware of it!!!! . Even if you are not at home, you can be held liable for the acts of your children and their guests if:
  • Someone is injured on your property.
  • Someone is injured off your property after consuming alcohol or drugs on your property.
  • Someone is injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident, fight, or disturbance and previously consumed or obtained alcohol or drugs on your property.
  • If a person becomes sick from any substance they consume or obtain on your property.
  • If your neighbors property is damaged by those attending a party at your home.
  • Minors are in possession or intoxicated on your property.
If you have a party at your home, to keep your kids safe and protect yourself:

  • Screen the guests carefully as they enter.
  • Man the doors
  • Don't allow uninvited guests in.
  • Monitor the party and your property through out the entire evening. 
  • and if the police come to your door, talk with them out on the street.  
Tomorrow I'll talk about what to do if your teen wants to go to a party at someone else's house!


    Laina said...

    GREAT advice!

    FRANNIE said...

    That is great son is going to turn 14 shortly and I dread the high school years.

    Thanks for the help.

    Kevin M. Kelleher said...

    4th Amendment!

    The Crazy Coxes said...

    "Tomorrow, I'll tell you what to do if your teen wants to go to a party at someone else's house!"
    Don't let them go???? Kidding!!!

    Sprite's Keeper said...

    I am NEVER hosting a party for teens. Once Sprite turns thirteen, we'll stop observing birthdays. That way, I don't have to deal with it.