Designed to assist parents/caregivers in planning and hosting responsible parties with teenagers under 18 years of age. It provides tips about communicating with teenagers and factors you might consider before allowing your teenager to host or attend a party.
Alcohol can increase the risk of injury, social and mental health problems, and cause permanent damage to young people’s developing brain. For these reasons, the national guidelines for alcohol consumption, states for people under 18 years of age not drinking alcohol is the safest option.
It is not the norm to provide alcohol to teens to attend parties. Very few (2.6%) parents reported that they had allowed their child to take alcohol to social events at 15 years or younger, and 65% still did not permit it when their child was 17-18 years of age.
Every party has the potential to get out-of-hand. It is important that you talk to your teenager about alcohol and take steps to plan a safe party. It is also necessary for you as a host to understand your legal responsibilities.
Communication with your teenager is vital particularly because they can be exposed to alcohol through friends, peers and the media. Below are some tips to help you communicate with your teenager about alcohol before they attend, or you host, a party:
Be patient - Some teenagers have difficulty expressing themselves and often say things they do not mean. Try not to take what they say personally and avoid engaging in conflict or arguments.
Listen - Try and listen without interrupting. Help them to express themselves by showing a genuine interest.
Be a good role model - Be aware of your behaviour and your own attitude towards alcohol as this can have an impact on the way teenagers address their own alcohol use.
Discussing drugs and alcohol - It is important that you do not glorify your own behaviour and be careful of sounding hypocritical. Help your teenager develop strategies that will help them deal with situations where they will be offered alcohol and other drugs or put in difficult situations.
Work in collaboration - Express the reasons why you came to a particular decision. Allow your teenager the opportunity to talk about the family’s rules and how they affect them.
Teenage parties are typically organised to celebrate a birthday, end of exams, school balls or just as a gathering. Any party has the potential to get out-of-hand, but by planning ahead you can limit the chance of this happening.
Discuss with your teenager how they expect the party to run and aim to set some rules. Rules should be set in relation to alcohol, supervision, number of guests, age and maturity of guests, starting and finishing times, transport, sleepovers and what should happen if things get out-of-hand. Remember that whilst compromise may be needed, do not agree to anything you are not fully comfortable with. Talk it through with other parents to find out their own experiences with parties.
It is common for teenagers to become defensive and accuse you of wanting to stop the fun or feel that you don’t trust them. Be calm and try not to enter into the argument. Listen and remain firm that rules of the party must be established.
On 20 November 2015 in Western Australia new laws came into effect regarding the secondary supply of alcohol to people under the age of 18. Under this law it is an offence for anyone to supply under 18s with alcohol in a private setting without parental or guardian permission. This offence carries a maximum penalty of $10,000.
Parents not wanting their children to drink alcohol are now able to stand firm in their decision not to provide young people with alcohol as secondary supply law means adults are legally not able to give alcohol to another person’s child, on a private premise, without parental permission.
Despite a party having a no alcohol policy, there may be guests attending that have been drinking prior to attending. As a party host you have a duty-of-care for guest’s safety, and here are a few things you can put in place if guests do choose to drink alcohol prior to, and during, the party:
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can result in confusion, blurred vision, poor muscle control, nausea, vomiting, sleep, coma or even death. Sometimes heavy drinking results in alcohol poisoning, and this is a life-threatening emergency. Call 000 if you see these signs in someone who has been drinking:
Article By Alcohol Think Again
Last updated: 21 July 2020