Don’t Ubernate Your Teens!

Teens are going to drink alcohol. That’s hard to beat, but parents can ensure their safety by taking responsibility for their transport home.

“I can just get an Uber like everyone else,” he said.

Hello? I thought that was my choice of transport on a Friday night, not that of your average teen.

But it seems a growing number of parents are contracting out their “mum and dad taxi” duties to complete strangers because they’re busy at work or want to have a night out too.

I know this, because children have been picked up from our house in Ubers. One night friends of my son, two 15-year-old girls, stopped by.

When it started getting late and frankly, I wanted to go to bed, I asked when their parents were picking them up and was told they were at a party and they’d get an Uber via “dad’s app”.

While Uber say they haven’t noticed a growing trend in under-18s using the service — I’ve since learned it’s against their company rules for minors to travel on their own and it’s up to the discretion of the driver to accept the ride — others have noted it.

Drug and alcohol educator Gitta ­Johnston, who runs a company called Life Lessons Educational Programs and tours schools, voiced her concerns about the decline of the “mum and dad taxi” last month when police had to shut down an out-of-control 16th birthday bash being held at a scout hall on Sydney’s northern beaches.

An ambulance was called and two underage teens needed hospital treatment after drinking alcohol.

OK, who doesn’t remember a party from our youth where there were underage drinkers? It shouldn’t happen but it isn’t that surprising.

However, what makes the situation different from a generation ago, was that not all of those attending were picked up by their parents.

Some left in Ubers and taxis or caught buses, according to reports.

“This incident is not a one-off incident on the northern beaches and I am a little bit concerned about the lack of responsibility that some of these parents show,” Ms Johnston told the Manly Daily.

Just three adults were supervising 150 kids.

“Do the parents know where their children are and what they are doing? Why are they not being picked up by their parents?”

 Her argument is simple, if you pick up your child yourself, you will most likely be able to tell if they are under the influence of drink or drugs, therefore they are less likely to partake.

Looking back to my teenage years, the “mum and dad taxi” was always available, even on a Friday and Saturday night after they’d had a hard week at work.

If I had been to a school disco in the local village hall, my parents would always come and get me.

Only now am I appreciating what they did.

So, while my son’s Uber suggestion was tempting, because yes, I’d like to have a couple of glasses of pinot gris on a Friday night after I’ve had a hard week at work, I laid down the law — it’s not going to happen.

Firstly, I don’t want him growing up thinking I can afford to pay for a $30 Uber whenever he wants to hang out with friends.

When possible, safe and early enough he can catch a bus, like I used to.

But, more importantly, there’s a guilty voice inside, shouting: “It’s my responsibility.”

So, I’ve made a pact with my husband. We will take it in turns to forego a drink and pick up our son at the weekends.

Although, I’ve also made my teenager download the Uber app on his phone and given him our login, just in case of an emergency.

At the end of the day if my son finds himself in a tight spot, I’d rather he got home safe than not at all.

The article is submitted by Julie Cross


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