Police, principal urge parents not to ignore party culture
POLICE will crack down on kids as young as 12 engaging in drugs, alcohol, underage sex, violence, offensive behaviour and malicious damage on beaches and bushland at Kingscliff and Cabarita.
Police issued a zero tolerance warning to all local high schools this week, but only Kingscliff High went public, re-printing the police edict in its school newsletter.
Over the past 12 months Tweed Byron Local Area Command says it has identified a long list of dangerous activities that students engage in at underage parties and social gatherings on the weekends and in holidays.
School youth liaison officer Senior Constable Nathan Verinder said officers had returned children as young as 12 to their homes after attending such events.
He said parents often wrongly believed their children were at a friend's house.
"Often, those organising these events are older people and are not associated with local schools ... these gatherings are not safe and appropriate events for young people to attend," he said.
Police have warned they will implement a zero tolerance stance on anti-social behaviour to deal with the problem.
"This will include searching and disposing of alcohol and taking appropriate action against any person supplying alcohol to minors," Snr Const Verinder said.
He stressed that parents should ensure they were "completely aware of their children's whereabouts" and not simply take the word of their child.
He told the Tweed Daily News the community should not dismiss the warning because beach parties and drinking may have been considered a rite of passage in the past.
"It's very much different to when we were growing up," he said.
"Our kids are taking greater risks at younger ages.
"They are experimenting with high-risk synthetic drugs and access to those substances has increased.
"The state of mind of these children when we find them should be of a major concern to all parents," he said.
Snr Const Verinder said in recent years unsupervised parties had increased along with assaults inside homes when parties spiralled out of control through social media exposure.
"Social media has also allowed word-of-mouth parties to escalate out of control faster than in the past," he said.
Snr Cnst Verinder praised Kingscliff High School's response to police concerns.
Tweed River High School and Murwillumbah High School did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
ONLY five weeks into his new job, Kingscliff High School principal Michael Hensley revealed that he had thought long and hard before publishing the warning.
"At the end of the day I thought, no, I'm going to put it in there because if I could work with our police just to raise awareness that this is what's happening, then people might just stop and think," Mr Hensley said.
"They're telling their parents that they're going to go to a mate's place and then the next minute they're comatose in the middle of the bush, possibly choking on their own vomit.
"I'm a parent and that absolutely appals me.
"If we say kids in the Tweed area don't engage in that sort of unsafe partying, we're kidding ourselves."
The old-school Sydney University graduate has called on his diverse 23-year teaching experience to bring a distinctly conservative approach to Kingscliff, which has received the full backing of the school's Parents and Citizens Association.
"I started teaching at Campbelltown, then at Ingleburn, between Liverpool and Campbelltown, then Fairfield, teaching English and ancient history all the way through.
"I got a pretty good understanding of teaching kids from a disadvantaged background and dealing with educational disengagement ... now I've reached a stage where I'm ready to run the show."
Most mornings you will find Mr Hensley at the gates shaking hands with parents and welcoming students, who were at first startled by the gesture.
"Every principle is different," Mr Hensley said.
"I have a very conservative view on maintaining standards in the school.
"My leadership style is driven by my sense of purpose, based on a couple of firm views about education which I have formed over the years.
"I know that education changes people's lives, but I also understand that you need to be realistic about that.
"Your goal needs to be that you make sure that you're offering equal access to everyone that walks through the school's door."
Department of Education endorsed R-RISK party guidelines
- Enforce RSVP invitations and strict guest lists
- Have only one entry point to the party
- Clearly state party is alcohol-free
- Watch for alcohol disguised as soft drink
- Look for alcohol hidden in bushes
- Provide "attractive" non-alcoholic "mocktails"
- Notify parents if their child has alcohol or drugs
- Hire security guards for large parties
- Confiscate alcohol from minors
- Don't promote the party on social media
- Register the party with police at www.mynite.com.au
- Contact Kingscliff or Tweed Heads police on
02 6674 9399 or 07 5536 0999 for further information