Parties, teenage drinking will stay

By SAMANTHA STONEMAN A MURWILLUMBAH schoolgirl says Tweed teens won't stop drinking or throwing wild parties. The Tweed's teen culture has been put under the microscope following a drunken rave party in Kingscliff last weekend. Police officers attempted to break up the party, with a number of the 350-strong crowd, mostly intoxicated teens, turning violent. Talking to the Daily News yesterday, a 17-year-old Murwillumbah girl, who did not want to be named, said weekend parties such as the one at Kingscliff had become an institution and were not about to go away. A party-goer herself who confessed to knocking back at least eight drinks each weekend, she said drinking at parties had simply become the thing to do for teens. "I don't think you'll be able to stop teenagers partying," the girl said. "I know kids who drive for kilometres on a Saturday night to find a party because they're bored." She agreed with the members of the Youth Forum assembled by the Daily News this week that teens needed more to do on weekends. The nine schoolkids who attended our forum said there was a lack of facilities and services for teens throughout the Tweed. This, according to the schoolgirl, is exactly why the teen party scene has become so big in the region. "There's not really any other%options for us on weekends but to go to parties," she said. "Most non-alcoholic facilities are closed after dark, and even%public transport options at night don't give us a lot of options. "Some alternative is surely needed." However, boredom is not the%only factor involved when it comes to teens drinking. She said in many cases young kids were consuming alcohol in a bid to be considered "cool" by their peers. "Most people I know start drinking to be considered cooler," she said casually. "I make friends when I'm drunk, so whether you do it to make friends or hook up or whatever, if you see someone cool drinking and they ask you if you want one, you're not going to say no are you." In some cases the people offering the alcohol at these parties are well past their teenage years, making it more difficult to say no. "There are always 20-plus%people who rock up at parties, and sometimes they supply the drinks," she said. "A lot of times they cause the most trouble, not teenagers." In fact drinking and partying on weekends has become so import-ant to teens' images that she said it is discussed and encouraged in the schoolyard. Despite admitting under-age drinking was wrong, the girl said she enjoyed getting drunk with friends. "As a kid, I always thought drinking was disgusting. "Seeing my mum and my dad and the way they acted when they were drunk, I always told myself I would never do it," she said. "But as I grew into it, and tried it a little bit, I started to enjoy it. "It's not like we party to make noise, throw bottles at people or cause havoc . "It's the social thing to do and I party because I love dancing." n.Samantha Stoneman is a work experience student from Tweed Valley College



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