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Updated 04 September 2013

After the party, it's the after-party

After twelve years your teen is finally saying farewell to school. Here's how to ensure they survive the matric ball after-party.

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Your teen has probably started planning her matric farewell since grade 8 and now it's arrived. Making her matric ball dreams come true has probably cost you a small fortune. The outfit, the arrival car and the partner is finally sorted. And now the dreaded question has been asked, "Can I go to the after-party?"


You remember yours and you shudder as you think about everything that could go wrong. Every year reports are rife of accidents happening after matric ball festivities. Here's how you can ensure they survive the after-party.

What parents need to know

"After-parties have become commonplace, but many turn out to be quite wild so it's worth finding out what has been planned, where and what supervision is available," says Izabella Little-Gates, author of the Life Talk books for teens and parents and founder of the Life Talk Forum.

According to Little-Gates clubs are often hired out for the party, and sometimes a private house or marquee might be used to host the event.

"Most of the ones we have heard of involve plenty of alcohol, and this leads to some potentially wild antics. If the teens are drinking heavily, this opens the door to a number of risks," says Little-Gates.

Little-Gates lists the following fuelled by alcohol as potential dangers:

  • Alcohol is the gateway to the drug scene. At after-parties drugs are often present. Various reports of teens getting drunk and smoking marijuana joints that have been laced with stronger drugs, such as heroin, and ending up in the nightmare slide of the drug-scene.
  • Teens lose their inhibitions and engage in sexual activity they would not usually consider. According to reports the bathrooms and bedrooms at after-parties see some 'hectic' action.
  • Alcohol affects decision-making. After even one drink teens may make questionable decisions like: going home with someone they’ve just met, or driving while under the influence.
  • Drunken girls are a rape target. Many rapes report drink-spiking when in fact a relatively small percentage seems to involve actually spiking. Many occur because the girl is too drunk to protect herself, ends up in bad company or makes decisions that lead her to be in dangerous places.
  • Aggression increases leading to confrontations and fights. Teens get into fights where punch-ups and stabbings with knives or broken bottles occur, and sometimes even guns are pulled out.
  • Drunken driving claims lives. A number of tragic incidents have been recorded where young lives have been wiped out due to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs when leaving an after-party.

"It's important to ensure that your teen is aware of the above risks and they have thought them (and the consequences) through carefully, and they have an action-plan to make sure they don't fall prey to any of the risks," says Little-Gates.

Partying at a club?

For most teens this will be their first time at a club. It's a new and potentially dangerous experience, but it is less dangerous when experienced with people they know rather than going alone. It's important for parents to discuss the dangers with their teens so that they can act responsibly.  By giving them the opportunity to do this and arming them with sound information, it can be a growing experience that will come in handy in years to come. The after-party is a great test of responsibility.

If the party is held at a club, make sure to pay for private security/bouncers. It is also important to  organise with the owners: make sure they know some of the attendees will be under 18, and confirm that no strangers will be allowed.

How to keep your teen safe

Here’s what parents can do to keep their teen safe at an after-party. Little advises the following:

  • Ensure that a responsible, sober adult takes them to the party
  • Have a couple of responsible parents present at the party (not as party-poopers, but to keep an eye in case things get badly out of control)
  • Ensure that a responsible, sober and awake adult takes them home after the event

Questions to ask your teen

  • Where is the party?
  • Who will be supervising it?
  • How will you get to and from the party?
  • Where will you sleep after the party?
  • If there's an "after- party after-party" or breakfast: whose house is it at? What are the sleeping arrangements? How will you get home afterwards?

For teens

The matric ball is a rite of passage that no teen wants to miss out on. Part of growing up is learning to make responsible choices. Here are some tips on how to stay safe.

  • Plan ahead; discuss your plans with your parents and friends.
  • Don't accept drinks from anyone you don't know. If you've left your drink unattended, throw it away.
  • Get to know the warning signs of alcohol poisoning and drug intoxication.
  • Remember to charge your cell phone, and to keep it on and with you at all times.
  • Take extra money with just in case an emergency arises.
  • Know where you are and where you are going; keep your parents and friends informed if your plans change.
  • Trust your instincts, if you feel endangered or uncomfortable leave.

(Leandra Engelbrecht, Health24, March 2011)

Sources:

  • Izabella Little-Gates, author of the Life Talk books for teens and parents, and founder of the Life Talk Forum. Visit www.lifetalk.co.za for free information and tips to download. Join the 'tug-of-war'.
  • The Alochol and Drug Awareness Program of Weston http://www.westonadap.org
  • Talking to teens: prom, graduation and alcohol http://www.restoringtroubledteens.com
  • Planning for the prom http://www.aspeneducation.com
 
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