Published on August 14th, 2012 | by webadmin


“The Party Season: Help is at hand, if you need it”

by Sam McKinney, Head of Senior School, St Peters College, Adelaide

In a separate statement, the Headmaster has put his and the school’s views on the issue of parties, specifically the need to address the potential for alcohol and drugs to be consumed.

Neither the Headmaster nor I wish to overstate this matter particularly because there is a network of support available to help us all manage what is, after all, unsurprising.  We know that some teenagers drink, some to excess, even if we encourage them not to do so.

But, I believe we – both parents and teachers – must send a clear message to our boys that the culture of our school is not conducive to large numbers of teenagers consuming alcohol and/or drugs simply as an excuse to let off steam or because it seemed too difficult for a parent to say ‘no’.

As Head of Senior School and as a parent, I am concerned about the abuse of both legal and illegal drugs.  Along with the school generally, I have a strong commitment to break the nexus between a legitimate party to celebrate occasions during the school year and unacceptable behaviour.

No doubt, some parents will be under considerable pressure to allow a high degree of freedom at their sons’ parties or to allow their son to attend such a party elsewhere. I understand this reality but it is OK to say ‘no’, indeed it may well be the smart decision to make, notwithstanding that pressure for approval might seem irresistible. We have a strong school community; it may prove very beneficial to openly share information or discuss concerns when making decisions about the activities of our sons.

I take this opportunity with the Headmaster and on behalf of the school generally to send a clear message:  St Peter’s College culture and its policy do not support allowing, let alone enabling, excessive under-age consumption of alcohol and/or illegal drugs at parties in private residences.

What we do support is positive role modelling and the creation and sustaining of a strong school environment that keeps our boys safe. Well known and respected advocate on adolescent drug and alcohol safety issues, Paul Dillon, will be speaking at Saints on Tuesday 9 October.  I would encourage all parents of students in senior school to attend this presentation.

In the meantime, if any parent has any concern in this matter, please call me to discuss.  I will always take your call with respect to private parties.  However, please understand that, if I do hear of a party that may be a cause for concern, I feel it is my responsibility to make contact with the organisers. As always, the safety and wellbeing of our boys is paramount.

There may be some who read this who feel that the Headmaster, I and the School in general are making the party season a bigger issue than it deserves.  I don’t believe that is so and neither does the law in South Australia.  It may be useful quickly to review the state legislation (although it is currently under review). In particular, note the potential dangers arising from the use of social media to advise that a party is being held, use that can result in large numbers of gate crashers.  In part, the legislation advises as follows:

“Although it is not illegal for teenagers to consume alcohol at a party held at a private residence this does not mean that there are no further legal implications. If no parents or responsible adults are present then there can be long-reaching implications for any consequences that arise as a result of the teenagers’ alcohol consumption. For example, if there is injury or property damage a lack of supervision will be a factor in establishing negligence.

Parents hosting a party for teenagers need to be aware of any insurance and legal implications of serving alcohol to teenagers. Currently the law in South Australia does not require parental consent for a child to be allowed alcohol in a private residence, but it is a sensible precaution to advise other parents that alcohol will be available at the party so they can make an informed decision about whether to let their child attend or what restrictions they wish to place on their attendance.

As with any person inviting others onto their property, a duty of care exists for the occupier (i.e. host) to take measures to avoid any reasonably foreseeable harm to those invited. With the popularity of social networking gatecrashing of teenage parties has become a new phenomenon and a duty of care can extend to trespassers under s.20(6) of the Civil Liability Act 1936. Despite not being invited onto the premises, there may still be a duty of care if they are exposed to danger that was reasonably foreseeable and no action was taken by the occupier to avoid it. For this reason it is essential to have a plan in place to deal with emergencies.”

Parents’ support and adherence for the school’s culture in this important area is greatly appreciated and warmly welcomed.



Further information

Tracy McNamara, St Peter’s College Marketing and Communications Manager

+61 8 8404 0523 or 0411446924


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