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Teens in clubs
New Year's may be over, but Robyn is still wondering: are any clubs safe for teens?
If there is anything guaranteed to get parents into a tizz and probable tussle with their teenager it’s the issue of clubs. There’s not much one can do when they turn 18: they are now of legal age, they are not hiving off with a false ID and they are, hopefully, able to fend for themselves.

It’s the under-18 venues that add to many a parent’s grey hairs. Suddenly, their High School Musical-besotted tweenie-just-turned-teeny is rolling her eyes at the very thought of a pyjama-party with her girlfriends and a bunch of DVDs starring singing kids.
She’s heard about the under-18 club in Seapoint or Sandton and “everybody is going mom” is the argument of choice. Phones light up as parents try to figure out what others parents think, do and say. Friends prepare a pincer-movement strategy to make sure all parents are moving in the same direction. Older teenagers who have “been there/done that”  are grilled on all fronts: by anxious first time parents and by the wannabe-clubbers.

It’s tough all around. Us parents only want to protect those we love most in the world. We know what dangers lurk – spiked drinks, predators and on and on – and we feel powerless when we are not able to always protect. Our children just want to have fun, fun, fun and, the truth is, the opportunities are limited, particularly at night. Many people refuse to have houseparties because of the threat of gatecrashers, violence and illegal alcohol. The appeal of being a mallrat happily diminishes rather rapidly.

How to judge a teen club

An under-18 venue, if vetted correctly, should generally be fine. A few pointers:
  • Good ones do not let kids hang around outside (a bouncer recently refused to let my friend’s daughter out the club until he could see the dad arrive in his car).
  • Don’t be shy to check out the venue (preferably without your incredibly embarrassed child in tow).
  • Phone and ask the necessary questions about alcohol, fire escapes, security.
  • When you fetch, SMS or phone so neither you nor she/he/they are left waiting, looking vulnerable.
  • Make sure your child knows the dangers: never put your cooldrink down; stay with your group and, if you feel uncomfortable about anything, head straight for the bouncers.

Oh, and one more thing and for this I will risk the slings and arrows of outraged youth. I do think a 13-year-old is too young. Over to you to convince them of that.

What did your teen do this New Year? Did you allow them to go to clubs?

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