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The dangers of ‘Project X’ parties

 
Open parties have become a trend; is your teen risk-proof?
kids drinking at a party
By Scott Dunlop

Pic: Shutterstock

A rash of ‘Project X’ parties has raised parent’s concerns- Based on the US movie of the same name, kids organise massive house parties with open invitations on Facebook and Twitter. In Holland, a 16-year-old forgot to make her online party invitation private, prompting 20 000 people to reply, forcing riot police to assemble to prevent chaos, according to News24.  As many as 4000 kids have turned up for similar parties, where the use of alcohol and drugs is openly encouraged.

Cops and hospitals

Project X-styled parties have been happening in Durban, and, unlike the Dutch party which was shut down by riot police, local cops are insisting they don’t have the time or manpower to investigate every single teen party, reports TimesLive. One party resulted in three girls being admitted to hospital, while another was shut down by parents who had caught wind of it.

Policing Facebook

In one case in the US, a group of teens who had broken into an empty house to throw a party were later caught after the owner of the house came across photos of the party on Facebook, including images of one kid throwing up, and others using a funnel to smoke, according to HuffPost.

In Cape Town, schools are finding that the internet is becoming a place where teens overshare the evidence of the kinds of activities that previously would have just become part of their oral histories- Facebook pages and blogs are being used as evidence in internal disciplinary hearings regarding alcohol consumption at house parties and online bullying.

If your teen is online, consider the following in order to prevent your child from getting caught up in potentially dangerous (possibly even criminal) parties:

  • Be friends with them on Facebook, and insist that you are able to see all of their posts- some teens set their privacy settings so that you are unable to see their pictures, for example.
  • Get to know their friends and their friend’s parents and find out their views on alcohol consumption and open house parties.
  • Explain to your child that the context of pictures taken at parties isn’t always clear when they are put online, and that what may have been innocent at the time could incriminate them as being involved in something illicit.
  • Set ground rules for parties, such as the presence of an adult, no alcohol and no drugs, as well as a curfew time by which they must either be home or picked up.
  • Make sure that your teen knows not to drink anything which is handed to them by a stranger, especially in an open container which may contain narcotics or a date-rape substance. This could be part of a longer conversation about the risks of taking drugs which may be contaminated with other substances (or any drugs, for that matter), as well as the dangers of binge drinking.
  • Contact your neighbourhood watch- they will often be aware of parties being planned or underway in the area.

Your teens may not understand that online photos or videos of them partying could get them into trouble, perhaps even coming back to haunt them years later when applying to tertiary institutions or for jobs. In addition, compromising pictures may even be used to bully your teens or extort money in exchange for keeping them offline.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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Do you check that the parties your teen attends are safe?

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