Youth correspondent Emilie A, a high school student from Thousand Oaks, has been participating in Straight Up Reality Parties as an actor since 2007.
Emilie, like all Straight Up youth, want parents to be more aware of dangerous party norms and risky behaviors associated with underage and binge drinking, and to help parents understand what they can do to help their teens safe. Emilie talked with Thousand Oaks mayor Jacqui Irwin and wrote the following article.
Straight Up Reality Parties for Parents may be reenactments of real drinking parties, but they continue to shock parents across Ventura County. Straight Up is involved with the police department and recently received support from the Thousand Oaks mayor, Jacqui Irwin.
“I am involved with a coalition of grassroots organizations, law enforcement and elected officials which are working to reduce the amount of underage drinking in Ventura County through education and enforcement,” said Irwin.
Irwin, who is a mother of three teenagers, was first invited to attend a reality party in Camarillo.
“I was pretty shocked the first time I saw a reenactment,” said Irwin, “[I] was so impressed that I volunteered my home as the site of a Reality Party.”
In September of 2007, Irwin hosted a Reality Party in her home in Thousand Oaks. Among the attendees were Thousand Oaks Police Captain Randy Pentis and Thousand Oaks City Council member Andy Fox. The Reality Party at Irwin’s house included many reenactments, including beer pong, drinking contests, adult internet predators, girls being taken advantage of — all of them events that can be considered “normal” at a real youth party.
“Parents often have no real concept of what their kids are involved with,” said Irwin, “Additionally, many parents think drinking parties are a right of passage.”
Irwin’s goal was to teach parents the dangers of underage drinking, and to prevent such parties from happening in the area.
“Hopefully parents who see the reenactments will start to ask their kids more questions about what sorts of activities they are involved with,” said Irwin.
After walking through the reenactments, parents were able to meet outside to discuss more about the dangers of these parties. Many parents were shocked to learn the reality of the situation, and were eager to learn how they could help.
“There are a lot of parents that really care about what is going on in the community,” said Irwin, “It was very rewarding to hear many of them say that they felt more empowered to tell their kids that these type of activities are not acceptable.”