Many of people still remember and are grieving over the terrible fire in the Oakland Warehouse which resulted in a tragic loss of many lives. Many young lives were lost needlessly and many families and friends are still grieving because they lost a loved one. Unfortunately, this was a tragedy waiting to happen and it could happen again.
Summer is coming to an end and many teens are thinking about having to start high school soon. Others will be starting college so they are thinking about their upcoming move and not be able to spend as much time with their high school friends. Therefore, as summer comes to an end many teens are thinking about being able to spend as much time as possible with their friends handing out, going to parties and having a good time. Some of these parties they will be planning to attend are referred to as “underground parties.” Such as the one in the Oakland warehouse where so many people died in the tragic fire.
These “underground parties” are very common with teenagers and college students. The place of the parties are usually is posted the day before the party on Facebook or other social media sites that teenagers use. Typically these parties occur in warehouses in Oakland and San Francisco. The party organizers do not get permits nor do they consider safety. Typically at these parties there is a lot of alcohol and drugs such as ecstasy, pink, spice, wax, heroin etc. Therefore, the party organizers are looking for out of the way locations were they are unlikely to be detected by the police.
Many teenagers view these parties as fun because of the dancing and because typically these parties start late at night and go until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. Also since it is underground, if they want to drink or use any of the drugs they can. All they need is the money to buy it or a friend who is willing to buy it and no one will stop them.
Typically a teen will be looking on social media to find the underground parties for the weekend. Often while online they meet other people who are going and they often make plans to go with someone they just met online. Since the parties start usually after 10pm many parents don’t know if their teenager is going to an underground party or not. The teen usually says they are spending the night at a friends house and they sneak out of the friends house to go to the party.
I have had many teenagers tell me about these parties. When I point out the risk such as they don’t know anything about who set it up, the safety of the area or the people who will be there, they also have no idea about the people just met online. They have a tendency to say I’m over reacting or being too careful. I also mention they are taking a tremendous risk going to these parties a drinking anything or using any drugs. Again they have no idea what they are drinking or taking and how their body will respond to the substances. Again, teenagers tend to say that I am overly concerned and there is nothing to worry about because they have gone to these parties before and they know how to handle it.
However, the fire that occurred in the Oakland warehouse shows there is something to worry about. The organizer had no concerns about safety nor did he take responsibility for the fire and what happened. Furthermore, since it was done secretly no one knew for a long time who was there and if they were safe or not. Facebook posted a page for people to check in as safe. However, that didn’t help the families who were waiting to hear, if a loved one was safe or not.
Parents this time of the summer is an excellent time to sit down with your teenager and talk about these “underground parties.” Teenagers have a lot of free time during the summer and they feel entitled to be able to party because they will school is starting soon and some of their friends are leaving for college. Therefore, since they have a short amount of time to be together with all their friends, they also have a right to party and have a good time. Discuss the dangers associated with these parties. Teenagers may argue about the fact that these parties are safe, but point to the Oakland party as an example that these parties are not always safe. Discuss with your teen other places they can go with their friends to have a good time without taking such a big risk.
Parents we also need to put pressure on the authorities to hold the owner of these warehouses and party organizers responsible for what happens at these parties. The Oakland fire was a horrific event. In addition to the building may not be safe, many kids overdose at these parties. Many of these teens die because no one wants to call the police or everyone is so busy dancing and using that they don’t notice if someone has overdosed. Again, the organizer is never held responsible.
One last point, parents when you discuss the “underground parties” with your teenagers use the Oakland fire as proof that bad things can and do happen to teenagers. Many teenagers feel safe taking chances with their lives because they don’t believe anything will happen to them. The tragedy in Oakland proves something can happen.
Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working with teenagers and learning about their online activities. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.