Is High School Partying Really That Bad?

As she walks slowly to the house, from the dark spot where she parked down the street, the anticipation is building. She can hear the loud thumping of music as she climbs the front steps to the front door. As she walks in, people yell “Heyyyyy,” welcoming her with drunk filled love. Immediately, she is given a Twisted Tea and begins to join in on the fun. She has been looking forward  to catching up with friends after a busy week and finally getting to relax. Suddenly there’s a pattern of thuds and a final bang, she laughs noticing her friend has decided to go down the stairs in a laundry basket…

What actually goes on at High school parties? For years there’s been the stereotypical idea of parties, usually displayed in movies such as: Project X, Mean Girls, Superbad, and American Pie. But how similar are the movies to the reality? And are the effects all bad? Let’s find out how “kids these days” are doing it.

“Parties still serve the same purpose that they always did — you meet people, you drink, you maybe end up with a one night fling — but the rules have changed. Kids today order fake IDs from China. They think e-cigarettes are cool. They live with the threat that everything they do will end up on Facebook,” wrote  How the Kids Are Doing it Now: Partying

According to Informed families, the image of a crazy high school party in which parents are on vacation and the whole school shows up for a kegger is a little overblown. Yes, the occasional party does approach out-of-control levels, but the majority of parties are smaller affairs, drawing no more than a few dozen kids, and perhaps even thrown with the blessing of parents who think teens will be safer if they drink in a supervised setting.

A Business Insider story by Chris Weller reported that, “According to psychologists Jean Twenge and Heejung Park, who analyzed 8.3 million responses across seven surveys of teens from 1976 to 2016, today’s 18-year-olds act more like 15-year-olds from years past. Contrary to teenagers of past generations, Generation Z — broadly defined as people born between 1995 and the mid-2000s — aren’t drinking alcohol, having sex, driving, or going out without their parents nearly as much. The findings largely back up Generation Z as less reckless and more socially isolated than generations prior.”

While researchers work to find general trends, each teen’s experience is unique. Some will chose to never drink, while other see it as a rite of passage. 10 different teens from the senior and junior class, shared their views on the reality of high school partying:

The Downside

“One time a friend supplying alcohol to our party was pulled over for their registration being up. They had loads of alcohol in their vehicle and if the cop were to search the car, that student would of gotten in trouble with the law, and it probably would affect their chances of going to college. It really was a wake up call for all of us to be more careful.”

Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.

“I threw up a lot once and then another time I guess I face-planted outside… but other than that it is fun.”

According to the CDC, Center of Disease Control, excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and costs the U.S. $24 billion in economic costs in 2010.

“Yeah, after a party I didn’t remember anything and it was kind’ve scary.”

On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. In 2013, there were approximately 119,000 emergency rooms visits by persons aged 12 to 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.

“Honestly, there has been a few times when parties have turned into really bad situations for individuals. I would seriously only recommend it for a tight group of friends who are trustworthy.”

The Upside

“It’s dope as frick. It’s just such a great social experiment, everyone should try it. You can meet so many different people that you might of never even met before. It just brings everyone together ya know.”

Many teens and young adults do not see any major issues in high school partying, except the factor of blacking out or getting alcohol poisoning.

“I’ve made tons of friends through partying. It’s a great social thing, kids just need to learn to be safe.”

Lots agreed that partying can be a great tool to meeting new people, and socially interacting.

“It’s a good way to meet new people and get closer to them in various ways. It lets you know what the real world is like.”

According to Debate.org, 54% believe underage drinking can be an okay thing, while 46% think underage drinking is never okay.

“If people only understood how partying can actually be a good thing and unite friends, it would not be as much of an issue. Everyone is so caught up in the fact that there is alcohol, but honestly when you are at a party the alcohol just makes everyone more easygoing and happy.”

Heidi Randall, Program director and Youth Council director at the Maine Boys to Men Organization, whose mission is to reduce interpersonal violence, specifically male violence against women and girls, and support the development of emotionally fluent, civically-engaged boys. Worries that modern high school parties have changed in key ways.“The Prevalence of date rape drugs is higher. The risk of sexual assault occurring at parties with the added risk of the acts being filmed is a new epidemic.”

Heidi goes on to explain the aftermath of these increasing factors, “When this happens the victim is often cast out in school and lose their social status, they may even leave school. When partying does happen we often see harmful gender stereotypes played out as all students feel pressure to perform gender in a way that is harmful often acting out sexually to prove orientation or to be accepted by male peers.”

Even though high school partying situations are not great, there are some positives coming with the times changing. Heidi adds, “For female identified students, the positive side of filming is there is proof though culturally that we struggle with holding young men accountable for sexual assaults. Affirmative consent and education is growing, this is positive.”

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