Responsible parents rarely give permission for their teenagers to have an unsupervised party. Nevertheless, these parties do happen, usually when unsuspecting parents are away from home. These parties frequently attract uninvited teens who learn about the event from mutual friends or from social networking sites. A large crowd of impulsive adolescents can often result in a situation that soon spirals out of control with disastrous consequences that the party organizers never imagined. (ref 7)
1. Substance Abuse
A national survey conducted by Columbia University found that teens report easy access to alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, making them standard fare at teen parties and dances. According to the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, some youngsters start drinking as young as 12 years of age, and the Public Health Unit in Grey Bruce County, Ontario, notes that it's not unusual to find teens rendered unconscious and requiring hospitalization from alcohol poisoning. Driving while drunk is an added concern that arises when impaired teens need to get home from the party.
2. Sexual Activity
When teens are under the influence of drugs or alcohol they are more likely to engage in sexual activity -- consensual or otherwise -- and removing any sort of supervision from the picture makes engaging in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex that much more likely, Planned Parenthood suggests. In addition, it's not uncommon for sexual assaults at parties to be photographed and posted on the Internet, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police report, resulting in humiliation for the victims and serious criminal charges for the perpetrators.
The National Youth Violence Commission claims that more than one in three teens report being in a physical fight within the last two years and that the most violence occurs in the late teens and early 20s. That teenage aggression is exacerbated by alcohol and drugs. The impulsiveness and high emotions of the teen years often lead to violent behavior. Fights often erupt at parties over romantic jealousies. Assaults with knives or guns might occur when trespassers are confronted, and it's not uncommon for deaths to occur at out-of-control teen parties.
Property damage at unsupervised teen parties ranges from relatively minor problems such as garbage strewn about and stains on carpets to slashed furniture, broken windows and fire damage. Even when the damage is not deliberate, the financial loss is often in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Thefts and wanton destruction can quickly become commonplace with a large, unruly group of teens. Neighbors disturbed by excessive noise might call the police and some teens will be arrested.
- Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control: Parental Guide to Hosting Responsible Teen Parties
- Kamloops The Daily News: Teen Reports Sex Assault at Party
- Planned Parenthood: Keeping Teens Healthy by Setting Boundaries
- The Sun: Teen Fatally Stabbed at Birthday Party in Oro Grande
- MailOnline: Teen Invites Three Friends ... but THREE HUNDRED Turn Up and Trash Home
- Public Health Grey Bruce Health Unit: Diary of a Teen Party
- Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control: Teenage Party Prevention, Enforcement and Dispersal
- The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens
- USA Today: Survey: Parents Clueless on Booze, Drugs at Teen Parties
- National Youth Violence Commission: Facts for Teens -- Aggression
- Government of Western Australia: Hosting a Party for Teenagers
- Washington Post: Should Parents be Held Liable for Rapes at Teen Parties?
- Healthy Children: A Parent's Guide to Teen Parties
- Parenting and Child Health: Young People and Parties
- Borough of Franklin Lakes: Unsupervised Teenage Parties are on the Rise
- Elmhurst Commission on Youth: State Laws and City Ordinances Every Teen and Guardian Should Know
- Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images