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Afterball Warning To Absentee Parents

ALAC PRESS RELEASE


25 JUNE 2003


Afterball Warning To Absentee Parents


Parents who send their college students off to poorly supervised afterball parties are failing their children, says the Alcohol Advisory Council.


“In the last two weeks we have seen press reports of police being called to help out with gatecrashers and grossly intoxicated students at afterball parties,” says ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy.


“In one case, apparently four parents and a few students were trying to control between 150 and 175 young people.


“That is just ridiculous.”


Dr MacAvoy says afterball parties are a fact of life these days. And young people are consuming alcohol at these parties so it is important that they do so within the law and safely.


“The question I have to ask is where are the parents?


“Organising a bus to transport the young people to and from the function does not guarantee their safety.


“It is time people realised that drink driving is not the only risk from excessive alcohol consumption.”


Another question is who is supplying the alcohol and in what quantities?


“Many parents say they give their children alcohol to teach them to drink safely.


“But supplying young people with so much alcohol that they end up drunk, covered in vomit, or as is possible with excessive binge drinking, in hospital recovering from alcohol poisoning, is not teaching anyone anything about drinking safely.


“Parents have a duty of care to their children which unfortunately too many parents are ignoring.”


Dr MacAvoy says there are some basic commonsense rules to ensure the safety of young people at afterball functions.
- Don’t supply your child with more alcohol than he or she can safely drink.
- Ensure there is adequate adult supervision.
- Ensure there is food available.

ALAC has produced a set of guidelines called Planning Parties to assist adults to work alongside young people to ensure afterball parties were fun, safe and within the law.


"We've had reports of afterball parties that have been incident free and the students have had a great night out. The key, we think, is for adults to work together with the students in the planning - it's their party. Give them a hand. Be there, but you don't need to intrude."


The guidelines are directed at the adults who work with the young people and they highlight and interpret the legal issues that surround such events. They also offer suggestions to follow in planning the party.


These include setting up a working party, establishing a budget, gaining sponsorship, choosing venues, security issues, transport and entertainment. A set of templates is included with sample letters for party organisers to alert and involve police, caregivers, boards of trustees and so on.


Dr MacAvoy does warn that the guidelines are a good start, but that both adults and young people need to be wary that things can still go wrong. He says it is most unfortunate Ashburton encountered difficulties as they have been most committed to issues around youth drinking recently.


Dr MacAvoy says ALAC worked with representatives from the community - including local police, health promoters, road safety coordinators and district licensing agencies and school principals - to provide the guidelines.


Copies of Planning Parties: a resource for those working with students organising safe afterball parties can be downloaded from the ALAC’s website http://www.alcohol.org.nz/resources/publications/index.html


ENDS

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