Parents are being urged to take on the role of bad cop to help avoid potential tragedy as many youth are gearing up for back-to-school parties.
Traditionally high-school students, and particularly those entering Grade 12, mark the new year with bush parties.
But considering the potential for drinking and driving accidents, drug overdose, school suspensions and more, parents are being asked to step up and keep their kids safe.
“Kids get angry and all that fun stuff but it’s better to have the battle than have the regrets afterwards,” said Doug Rogers, substance abuse prevention counsellor for the Vernon School District.
Rogers points to recent tragedies at such parties, such as drug overdoses resulting in death in Penticton and the rape of a young girl in the Fraser Valley as potential outcomes at such parties.
“Accidents happen, kids make mistakes, they make poor choices,” said Rogers, who has three kids of his own and would much rather have his kids ‘hate’ him and be safe at home.
“They put themselves in danger when they go to stuff like that. We worry about their safety.”
Rogers has been confronted by a number of parents this summer who aren’t sure what to do.
“They say, ‘they’re going to do it anyway so how can I stop them?’”
He insists kids need that consistent message that the illegal activities at these parties are unacceptable, and should not be tolerated.
“There’s a lot of parents who just sit quietly who don’t want their kids going but they have peer pressure from other parents who say, ‘relax, my kid’s going.’
“And probably a lot of kids right now are feeling the peer pressure of going to these parties and are looking to their parents for advice and if they aren’t getting it from the parents they’re going to get it from their peers.”
Vernon RCMP officers warn that they will find the locations of these parties and are ready to hand out tickets for traffic and liquor infractions ($230).
“We’re vigilant in trying to be proactive and seek these parties out,” said Cst. Kathy Szoboticsanec, the detachment’s school liaison officer.
Young drivers with their N may face fines for not complying with restrictions (too many people in a vehicle at once – $109), and those with too many infractions also have a chance of having their vehicle impounded.
Szoboticsanec also warns that many of these parties attract unsavory individuals whom many parents would not like to see their kids associating with.
“It’s not just students who attend these parties,” she said of the young adults no longer in school and who are generally immersed in the drug world.
Students can also face suspension if they attend such parties and show up at school the next day in any level of intoxication or with “nonsense written all over them,” warns Rogers.
“The principals will be waiting for them,” he said.