The suburban living room pulsed with the bass from loud music. The repetitive thud, thud, thud vibrated the floor and walls. The teens danced, arms raised in the air, waving bottles and glasses. They shouted, screamed, and called out to one another. The girls moved provocatively while the boys watched approvingly. One kid on his knees started chugging beer his friends poured through a hose. Two teens snuck away to a bedroom.
The kids were having the time of their lives. Then things started to go wrong. In the kitchen, two guys started fighting. The room tensed. The party was spiraling out of control.
The action happened quickly then. First, a girl collapsed on the kitchen floor. Kids hovered over her, not sure what to do or too drunk to care. And then a noise they all feared: a sharp knock on the door.
A voice from outside shouted, “police!” Kids dropped their plastic cups and liquor bottles and stampeded for the back door. The unconscious girl on the floor was forgotten as teens rushed to save themselves.
This scene took place at a private home in Marietta. The bottles and glasses were empty. The kids were acting to show adults what really goes on at an underage drinking party. Staged by the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce (CobbAT), a community organization working to eliminate teen access to alcohol, the demonstration was meant to get parents thinking about the consequences of serving teens alcohol.
The real show at this party was downstairs. There, the audience of parents had a chance to ask a police officer and two teenagers what really happens at house parties. The parents sat together on a long sofa, their faces troubled. Upstairs they had been smiling and enjoying the performance, but now, away from the play-acting and the charismatic teens, they were faced with the frightening possibilities of teen house parties.
After a moment, one parent spoke up: “So how do the kids get the alcohol?”
Through older friends, says Officer Wood of the Kennesaw, Ga, Police Department.
“Or they drink the liquor the parents already have in the house,” he added.
The Internet is changing the way word spreads about a party. Typically, Officer Wood said, parties get out of hand because kids post about it on Facebook or Twitter. Pretty soon, lots of kids no one knows are showing up. Kids might think they are having a small party for some friends but then they lose control.
“Half the kids don’t know the other half,” Officer Wood said.
Another parent wanted to know if kids were doing drugs when they drank.
“A lot of times there is marijuana and drinking at parties, but nothing harder,” one Youth Council member told them.