Ask the HiLite: How can you be safe and smart while you party?
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Officer D.J. Schoeff discusses how you can keep yourself safe and out of trouble while at a party or planning one.
Q: As a school resource officer, what would you say is your biggest concern for students going out and partying?
A: “Well, obviously any choices made that would be not helping their success. I often say, you’ve never heard someone say, ‘I’m successful today because I drank alcohol in high school. I’m successful because I smoked marijuana in high school.’ So, I would encourage people to have opportunities to gather together with their friends and enjoy partying, but it doesn’t have to involve illegal activity in any way shape or form.”
Q: What advice would you give to students planning parties?
A: “Social media is a no. We know that if it hits social media it can go to anyone and everyone, so if they’re looking to have a few friends over then (they should make) individual contacts with those individuals. And then just letting them know upfront what the expectations are. You know, ‘This isn’t a large party. I’m having a few people over; no one else is invited. Not to be rude, but I’m trying to keep it to a small group of friends and make it manageable. The expectations are there will be no alcohol, no marijuana.’ So have the expectations on the front end of things.”
Q: How can students avoid making bad decisions at parties?
A: “Pre-planning. I have been saying for years the decisions that we put ourselves in as teenagers, we don’t have the brain capacity to respond on the spot in a lot of cases. So we have to prepare ourselves on how we’re going to handle it and set the boundaries within ourselves so that when we get to that situation, we already know what our response is going to be. If we don’t think about it prior to it, when we get in that situation, someone offers or asks us, it’s very difficult to refuse that. It’s not impossible, but difficult.”
Q: If students find themselves in a bad situation at a party, what should they do?
A: “I encourage students to have some sort of communication with their parents if they can and/or a really trusted friend or family member that they could send a text message to, or maybe use a code word or something of that nature so that they have an out from the gathering. Parents can come pick them up, or they could drive away from it, whatever it is, and just avoid being in those circumstances.”
Q: If the police comes to stop a party, can students who are present at the party but not partaking in illegal activity be punished?
A: “Not necessarily. Depending on the circumstances, there’s all sorts of circumstances, there’s the possibility that they could. I always tell people, ‘If you’ve already chosen to make the bad decision, don’t make it worse by making another bad decision.’ And if you’re there and you’re choosing to be there and you’re not consuming alcohol, then to me there’s absolutely no reason if the police were to arrive for people to run. Even if you are consuming alcohol, you’re compounding the problem, you’re making things more difficult. And eventually, that’s going to come back. That particular party, that may not come back to haunt them. The next party they may feel, ‘Oh, I’ll just run again,’ and then eventually is going to be the minor consumption charge and it’s also going to be resisting law enforcement and things progress very quickly with that. I would encourage kids not to make the poor decision on the front end, but if they do, don’t compound it with an additional poor decision.”