The #ItsTooEasy Reality Party is an educational event to help parents and other concerned adults understand the current culture of teen parties, and create a community conversation around underage binge drinking, marijuana use, impaired driving, and prescription drug misuse.
Through a simulated high school party re-enacted by Santa Monica students, parents and adults will tour scenes of a mock party, and witness the drinking, drug use, and social pressures that can occur at such gatherings.
“In the Reality Party tours, parents will see the extreme levels of drinking that can happen, the realities around alcohol and sex, and how out of control things can get when kids are using substances,” says Katherine Kasmir, Executive Director of Straight Up Reality Improv, who will also direct student actors during the event.
Following the tour, parents will participate in a discussion with a panel of experts from the Santa Monica Police Department, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, counselors, youth, and more, to discuss community-wide solutions.
“The Reality Party is a significant experience because it creates an opportunity for parents, school administrators, and community leaders to acknowledge the realities of underage substance use, and find ways to address the problem together,” says Public Information Officer Lieutenant Saul Rodriguez.
The #ItsTooEasy Reality Party is hosted by CLARE Foundation and the Westside Impact Project, and is supported by the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Police Department, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the Institute for Public Strategies, and Straight Up Reality Improv.
“We value the partnership between the City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Police Department and the organizations involved in working together to address this issue facing our youth,” Gail Pinsker, SMMUSD spokeswoman, said. “SMMUSD, along with our partners, continues to expand drug and alcohol education and prevention programs for our parents and students.”
One parent who attended last year’s Reality Party stated, “This is something every parent needs to see. It’s something we know is going on, but to see it in the flesh, I was practically in tears the entire time because it was so impactful and so real.”
The spring and early summer months are a high-risk time for youth. Prom and graduation parties often involve significant alcohol consumption. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), eleven thousand teens per day try alcohol for the first time in June and July compared to the 5-8,000 in other months.
“Our hope is by parents being able to see the availability of drugs and alcohol, and how easily they can be shared, that they will be able to have a more relevant discussion with their kids around these issues,” says Dana Sherrod, one of the event’s coordinators.
A recent youth survey conducted by the independent community evaluator, Harder + Company, showed the vast majority (86 percent) of Santa Monica youth find it “somewhat” or “very easy” to get alcohol, and house parties and other “social” settings are where they consume it. More than half of teens who were surveyed said they had attended at least three house parties in the past year where alcohol was available.
The data show teen substance use is not just a local concern. The most recent California Healthy Kids Survey, LA County indicates 63 percent of 11th graders in LA County have used alcohol and/or drugs, and 37 percent have used alcohol and/or drugs in the last 30 days. Further, 69 percent of 11th graders in LA County say it’s “very easy” or “fairly easy” to get marijuana.
Reality Parties are increasingly being used by treatment and prevention professionals to combat the high rates of teen substance use. By highlighting the issues and bringing parents, schools, mental health professionals and law enforcement together, Reality Parties help parents understand the problems inherent in underage parties and thereby help to prevent them.
The #ItsTooEasy Reality Party is scheduled to take place Saturday, May 7 from 2-7 p.m. in Santa Monica. It is most suitable for parents of students in grades 6-12. For more information, or to register for a tour, visit www.westsideimpactproject.org/realityparty
CLARE is a substance abuse treatment facility that has served Santa Monica and the Westside for 46 years. The Westside Impact Project is a county-funded project working to reduce underage and binge drinking in Santa Monica and Venice.