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Talk to your kids about dangers of 'partying'
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There are not many adults around these days who, as teenagers, did not attend gatherings where the whole point of attending was to "party." The word "party," of course, is a euphemism for getting drunk and/or high on drugs. The same people who are now in their 40's, 50's and 60's were part of the cultural revolution that started in the 1960s, when "drugs, sex and rock and roll" became the operative behavior for a large part of that particular generation. This makes it difficult for parents who grew up in that era to implore their kids, who also want to "party," to steer clear of alcohol and intoxicants, as young people are quick to see the hypocrisy involved. Hypocrisy or not, the fact remains that too many young people end up dead, mentally debilitated or physically impaired as a result of substance abuse.

The people who engaged in the 1960s cultural stereotype acted foolishly, with deadly results in many instances. The difference now is that our population is larger, the abuse of intoxicants is now less a counter-culture activity, illegal substances are more readily available and technology has also impacted the "party" scene.

Specifically, with text messaging, instant messaging, social networks like Facebook (and others) and the fact that most everyone has a cell phone or smart phone, parties can come together in mere minutes. In the past, the announcements of such parties were spread via word-of-mouth, flyers or phone trees, all of which were more time-consuming. This means, in effect, that there are larger parties happening with greater frequency than in previous decades, with more diverse drugs that are available in larger amounts. The more parties that are occurring, the greater the odds are that young people will fall victim to DUI collisions, drug overdoses, fights, rapes and other tragedies. Just this last weekend, a 15-year-old girl was killed and another teen injured in Stockton while parked in front of a "party house." While it is unknown whether these shooting victims were directly involved in partying activities, far too often, people who are sharing the road with partiers, living near the parties, or are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time fall victim to the consequences of partying. These parties may sound fun to the uninformed, but they pose dangers unmatched from days gone by.

Much more can be said about these parties. They often take place in remote places outside of local city limits where there are fewer law enforcement patrols. Some party organizers use motels rooms and vacant houses (which are plentiful these days) as prime partying spots; and in some instances, kids will gather at a local lake campsite or in an orchard where their activities will not be easily noticed. And while these out-of-the-way party sites are less likely to draw the attention of law enforcement, the behaviors and risk-taking is more likely to reach the extremes. And to make matters worse, when things do go wrong, it takes the police and medical personnel longer to respond to the fights, overdoses and shootings when they occur in secluded areas.

The fact that there are more parties with greater dangers associated with them makes it that much more important for parents to intervene - even if they find themselves having to explain their own actions of their teen and early adult years. The worst thing to do is for parents to deny behaviors and activities they engaged in when they were young. It is all about credibility and genuine love for your kids, so engage them in open and frank conversations about what they and their friends are up to. As awkward as this situation may be for a parent (and their children), there are clear, severe and describable differences between what went on "then" and what is happening in the party scene these days. Parents who know the differences, and remain honest and up front with their kids, have a good chance of using facts, logic and parental authority to dissuade them from attending these dangerous parties and partaking in risky behaviors.