It is understandable that teens want to throw parties. Teens enjoy celebrating birthdays, graduation and other important milestones, or they just want to have fun with friends. However, these parties often occur without parental consent. Sometimes the parties begin with only a few invited guests, but they can quickly grow to upwards of 100 teenagers, where they can escalate out of control, according to the website for the Borough of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Because of the lack of adult supervision, dangerous activities can ensue -- often with tragic consequences.
Sex and Alcohol
Teenagers are 16 times more likely to find alcohol available at unsupervised parties than at supervised parties and 15 times more likely to find illegal drugs available at unsupervised parties than at supervised parties, according to the drug and alcohol treatment center, Hazelden. Teens who consume alcohol or drugs at an unsupervised party will be more inclined to have sex, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teens who are behind the wheel after drinking at unsupervised parties are another cause for concern. In 2010, 56 percent of drivers aged 15 to 20 years old who had consumed alcohol were involved in fatal automobile accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Disorderly conduct, loud noise and blaring music are other consequences of unsupervised teen parties. The house or apartment can overflow with noisy teenagers coming and going until the wee hours of the morning. Neighbors might knock on the door and ask the teenagers to lower the noise. However, in other cases, neighbors call the police and file a loud noise complaint. When the police arrive, the police might arrest one or more teens and charge them with criminal nuisance. Criminal nuisance laws vary from state to state. In New York State, a teen charged with criminal nuisance after creating unreasonable noise at a party would be considered a Class B misdemeanor. Other factors, such as the presence of drugs, could escalate potential charges to a felony. A conviction can remain permanently on a teen's record, and can negatively affect his chances of getting into college and securing future employment.
Even if parents were not aware that a party had occurred in their home and did not supervise the party, parents can be legally responsible if anything happens to a minor who had been given drugs or alcohol, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents can be held civilly or criminally liable if drugs or alcohol are provided and a teen's property becomes damaged; if a teen becomes sick from alcohol or drugs; or, after leaving the party, if a teen gets into an automobile crash and injures or kills somebody. Alternatively, if a teen driver is killed, the parents of the teen who threw the party could be legally responsible for that teen’s death.
Before allowing your teen to attend any party, first call the parents of the home where the party is to be held. Make sure that adults will supervise the party and that the parents will not allow any drugs or alcohol at the party. If you teen wishes to throw a party in your home, let him know that you or another adult will supervise the party the entire time. Set clear rules, such as the number of guests allowed, which rooms are off-limits, and that you strictly forbid any alcohol and drugs. Before the guests arrive, lock up all alcohol and medication in a closet or cabinet. If you are going out of town without your teen, ask friends or neighbors to keep an eye on your home and to call you if they notice any parties.
- Healthychildren.org: A Parent's Guide to Teen Parties
- Familyeducation: Unsupervised Parties
- Sheriff's Office: Unsupervised Parties
- Borough of Franklin Lakes New Jersey: Unsupervised Teenage Parties are on the Rise
- Kennedy Academy: http://www.kennedyacademy.org/ourpages/auto/2010/10/6/47225582/Guidance%20for%20Parents%20-%20Unsupervised%20Teen%20Parties.pdf
- The Children's Trust: Recognizing Substance Abuse
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Teen Drivers: Fact Sheet
- Hazelden: Parents Need to be Vigilant Chaperones at Teen Parties
- USLegal.com: Criminal Law and Procedure Misdemeanors Law & Legal Definition
- Legal Dictionary: Criminal Nuisance
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images