Fist fights, keg stands, prescription drugs, peer pressure and police involvement are just a few of the things parents experience at “Reality Parties” hosted by Straight Up Ventura County.
Straight Up is a youth development project that promotes social change regarding underage drinking and drug use. A way to convey this mission statement to parents is through holding party reenactments that are hosted at private residences in Ventura County. At these “Reality Parties,” teen volunteers use scripts and improvisation to recreate the realities of house parties.
The nonprofit’s goal is to help parents understand the current, local teen party scene. Straight Up wants to show the importance of the social environments and pressures that teens face.
“We want you to trust your kids, but still verify,” said Katherine Kasmir, program director for Straight Up.
The original idea for the “Reality Parties” came when Kasmir started going to hundreds of high schools and college classes to talk with students about typical parties. These workshops discovered that parties were out of control and that parents needed to become more aware of what was going on. From what was said in classrooms, a script was first put together in 2007 and Straight Up began organizing events to bring parents to party reenactments.
“This is serious. This is all based off of things that have happened, so it’s really intense,” said CLU junior Hannah Tasker, who volunteered to be an actress in the reenactment that took place Feb. 23 in Westlake Village. “Be aware. Information and education is key to being a parent, being a leader, being anything to someone you are trying to mentor and lead,” she said.
All the tours and scripts are edited based on the house that the reenactments take place at. In 30-minute tour groups, parents are led through various situations that happen during teen parties. The parents are exposed to the latest drinking games, different kinds of drugs and the pressures that kids put on others to experiment.
Once the house tour is over, parents have the opportunity to talk with staff members of Straight Up, counselors, members of the Thousand Oaks Police Department and a doctor to ask questions.
Besides wanting to show parents the dangers present at these parties, Straight Up also wants to show that even seemingly good kids can get caught up in the mess.
“I think it’s very real,” said a Newbury Park parent of two who went on one of the tours.
Some parents are unaware of the differences between the parties they attended when they were younger, compared to how they are now. A common misconception is that many adults feel drinking and drug use.
Published Feb. 27, 2013