Home Lifestyle Safety tips for Grade 12 learners attending ‘pens down’ parties

Safety tips for Grade 12 learners attending ‘pens down’ parties

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Concerns have been raised about the potential dangers lurking at these events.

The annual Rage Festival, taking place from 1st to 10th December, has become a popular destination for local teenagers to party and unwind. Picture: Pexels/Mark Angelo Sampan.

IN JUST a few weeks, the coastlines of Kwazulu-Natal and Plettenberg Bay will be flooded with excited matriculants, who are ready to let loose and celebrate the end of their academic journeys.

One of the largest of these festivals is the Rage Festival – also known as matric rage – which takes place over nine days in Ballito, Umhlanga and Durban, and is attended by more than 13,000.

The annual Rage Festival, taking place from December 1 to 10, has become a popular destination for local teenagers to party and unwind.

However, amidst the excitement, concerns have been raised about the potential dangers lurking at these events.

The Department of Basic Education has issued a warning to learners, urging them to refrain from attending and hosting pens-down celebration parties.

These parties have gained notoriety for their association with drugs and alcohol, leading to reckless behaviour, including risky sexual encounters and even loss of lives.

The department expressed its concern, stating,“#Pensdown celebrations can involve the use of drugs and alcohol, which can lead to incidents such as reckless sexual encounters. These celebrations may also lead to loss of lives. Choose to say NO!”

Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said that pens-down parties have a history of tragic incidents. He cautioned students against these parties last year.

“This is another concerning issue that we have seen in the past few years where young people resort to this type of entertainment, which is dangerous and we have seen [exam] results being issued with some learners already dead.”

The dangers of these parties were further highlighted by a recent incident involving a family from Mpumalanga.

Their son had attended a pens-down party without their consent, and they were forced to travel to KwaZulu-Natal in search of him.

Their search has been in vain so far, leaving them in a state of distress.

Meanwhile, the tragic incident at the Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, East London last year, where 21 young people lost their lives, serves as a grim reminder of the potential risks associated with these gatherings.

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board CEO, Dr. Nombuyiselo Makala, issued a stern warning to liquor traders not to host these parties at their establishments.

They said that any trader found guilty of allowing such events to take place, will face immediate consequences.

Meanwhile, Fidelity Services Group has also called for the festivities to be conducted safely.

“It is critical that participants and event organisers take personal responsibility for their own safety,” said Charnel Hattingh, group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity Services Group.

Hattingh offered some simple safety tips for Grade 12 learners attending ‘Matric Rage’ events:

– If you are driving, make sure you consider installing a tracking app like Secure Drive. This allows your location is updated on the mobile applications every two seconds, providing true real-time live tracking.

– Knowing exactly where you are means accident alerts can be received in real time resulting in faster emergency dispatching where every second counts.

– Theft alerts or panic button activations similarly will save lives when response units are dispatched without delay.

– Before leaving your accommodation for the day or night, ensure that anything valuable is locked away in a drawer or safe.

– Never carry large amounts of cash or go out wearing flashy or expensive jewellery.

– If your accommodation is a holiday house or apartment, make sure all the doors are locked, the windows are properly shut and the alarm is activated if a system is installed.

– When out at different events and activities, be aware of your surroundings and arrange with your friends to keep an eye on each other and your belongings.

– If you are approached by a suspicious individual; walk away and report it to the closest security or the police.

– Do not accept drinks from strangers and do not leave your drinks unattended.

– If you leave the place where you are staying, tell someone where you are going and the time you expect to return.

– Save their number to your mobile phone or memorise the details of the person to be contacted in the event of an emergency and save them as one of your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts.

When it is time to return to your accommodation:

– Never leave without your friends.

– Do not accept a lift from a stranger; rather use transport provided by the event organisers.

– Driving after a few drinks is never an option. Call an Uber or use event shuttles, if they are available.

– Consider appointing a designated driver

Hattingh also urges parents and caregivers to have a conversation with their children about these safety tips, to help prepare them.

“The reality is that matrics will be partying, and they have certainly earned the chance to blow off some steam. Let us encourage them to do it as responsibly as possible.

It may also be worth speaking to your security provider about personal safety apps that are available as well as services such as Meet and Greets to ensure peace of mind,” she said.

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