Police have issued a warning to parents about a new Facebook craze in which hundreds of youngsters are invited to parties.
Officers are asking parents to take responsibility for their children after a recent spate of underage drinking parties, one of which left a youth with a fractured jaw.
Problems with parties and large gatherings of youngsters drinking prompted the police to issue advice asking parents: ‘Do you know where your child is tonight?’.
A planned party in Douglas was stopped on Sunday night. Last weekend one in Castletown caused chaos and a gathering of more than 100 youths in Watterson Lane on Saturday prompted police to report that there would be ‘follow-ups in relation to alcohol related offences’ and asked for parents to collect their ‘drunk charges’.
Last Thursday police also reported ‘large groups of youths hanging around fields and the streets of Douglas following school proms’.
Inspector Derek Flint said: ‘It’s important that children are able to enjoy the things that the Isle of Man has to offer freely but you’ve got to exercise that freedom sensibly. Some of that responsibility has to fall to parents.’
‘We stopped one underage party planned for Sunday night where children of 13 and upwards were being invited to bring alcohol and tents to a location in the greater Douglas area.’
The Castletown party involved over 100 young people in the Poulsom Park area and left a youth in hospital with a fractured jaw, and a big clean up operation for the local authority.
The party, organised via Facebook, attracted young people from around the island who gathered in fields near the weir in Silverburn river, next to Poulsom Park. Residents in the area were alarmed to see the great numbers of young people milling around. At one stage a tent was set alight and glass and cans were left strewn on the ground (some of it on land owned by Simon Riggall).
The police broke the party up on Saturday evening, but some party goers moved into the town’s square, where they carried on drinking. When commissioners’ staff came into the square at 5.30am on Sunday, some were reportedly still there drinking.
Police asked parents to contact their children and check where they were and, if in Castletown, collect them and bring them home.
The incidents have led to a lively debate on Facebook about parental supervision and the lack of facilities for young people.
Comments began at 7.30am on Sunday. Some posts said the behaviour was typical for teenagers and everyone has ‘done something similar’ at that age. They said: ‘Let the kids have some fun.’
One called the Castletown party a ‘mini Glastonbury’ and said she was glad the kids had organised it for themselves. Why didn’t the police ‘supervise’ it from a distance?
Another said it is not the responsibility of the police to look after children, that’s up to parents who ‘it seems are not interested so long as they are out of their hair’.
Does ‘fun’ involve freely assaulting people, another post read. A parent said a Castletown youth had inflicted ‘a vicious attack’ on his son – a teenager who had never caused any trouble - leading to hospitalisation with facial injuries and a fractured jaw. He had spent three hours in A&E.
Others claimed the fighting was started by youths from Douglas deliberately attacking Castletown youths.
Kids’ heads are ‘all over the place’ moving from being a child to an adult, said another. ‘They need somewhere to go and something to do’. A festival should be held where they can camp in a safe environment.
Another post read not all youths are like this, asking parents to contact their children is no good because they can and do lie, who is supplying the alcohol to fuel such behaviour? And why not have CCTV outside shops to discover which adults buy young people alcohol?