What role can parents play in controlling impromptu social media parties?

As you may have read, a giant impromptu party broke out on Sunday thanks to a few clicks on a bunch of smart phones. The party was hash-tagged “BigAssCookOut,” and police estimate about 1,500 young people showed up to a park near Stone Mountain. Here’s more from the AJC.

From the AJC: (I will try to link to the latest story as I see updates move)

…“This came really as a surprise to us,” the county’s public safety chief Cedric Alexander told reporters on Monday.

But Alexander vowed that they would be prepared in the future.

“We’re going to monitor social media going forward so that we can try to get ahead of them as quickly as we can and intervene,” he said.

Two women were shot Sunday evening as DeKalb County police broke up about 1,500 youth at the Wade Walker Park party near Stone Mountain.

“There was underage drinking and some drug use there,” he said. “Often when we have things like this, things go awry.”

Party organizers did not get the required permits to have a DJ and serve alcohol at the the event, authorities said.

Social media, which announced the party with the hashtag “BigAssCookOut” noted that the event was to start at 4:20 p.m., a popular reference for marijuana users (Sunday was April 20, or 4/20) and was prevalent throughout the week leading up to Sunday.

The rapid spread of news about a party, and rabid response to social media news feeds is nothing new, particularly among youth.

What was said to have been planned as an intimate Douglas County house party on the night of Nov. 6, 2010, ballooned — after social media alerts — into a raucous street gathering where 18-year-old Bobby Tillman was stomped to death by four other young men.

And crowds visiting Atlanta for the so-called Freaknik exploded reportedly to upwards of 250,000 in the mid-1990s after a low-tech social media — word-of-mouth — spread.

In DeKalb on Sunday, an officer on patrol saw the throng just after 5 p.m. on Sunday and radioed for assistance, Alexander said.

The shooting happened at 7:45 p.m., more than two hours after an entire precinct of officers and then some began corralling young partygoers out of the park.

DeKalb police Capt. Stephen Fore said Chardonae Meeks and Maya Scott, both 19, sustained graze wounds to the head that were not life-threatening, and were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

Both women have been released, police said Monday…”

We have reporters following up on this story and what my editors want to know is what can parents do to help control this type of party? Is there anything parents can do when “invites” arrives via social media? (A lot of the young adults in the Instagram photos looked college-age or older. I’m not sure parents get much say at that point.)

I guess the main thing would be for parents to be following their young adults on Twitter and Instagram – if they are giving them the correct accounts. Also just a good old-fashioned “Where are you heading?” could also help.

Have you seen an uptick of party invites arriving via social media? How do you monitor and/or control where they end up? Have you seen graduation and end-of-school parties also spread this way?

Besides sharing on the blog, you can also email your stories and thoughts to reporter Helena Oliviero at holiviero@ajc.com

42 comments Add your comment


April 22nd, 2014
6:00 am

A related issue happened to some neighbors about 10 years ago. Their daughter invited a few friends over, while the parents were out of town. It ballooned into a LOT of people, many she did not know. Some guests robbed the parents by taking jewelery from their bedroom. I believe the close neighbors called the parents when the police arrive. The Mom told me about it later. It was awful. We did not see anything but I may have been out of town and they do not live on our block.

What role can parents play? Well, our kids KNEW not to ever try this. When we went out of town, we called our close neighbors and told them to call our cell phones if they saw something the least bit fishy. We also told them that NO ONE was allowed over to the house, unless we were asked about it first. It was our house and we were responsible. I know this party was held elsewhere. Our kids also knew their boundaries there too and made it through college without any issues.

I know that some will say…”you think too highly of your kids”. Well, they are not perfect but we are at and past the finished line. They will be 22 and 26 soon.

If I had younger kids, I would share this story with them for sure!


April 22nd, 2014
6:10 am

OFF topic…I received a thank you note for the baby gift yesterday…hoorah!

The note looks like it was written by the Dad to be. It is not the notecard set I sent them, after receiving no comment on the gift I sent and was delivered about 6 weeks ago ( before the shower).

The Mom to be has unfriended me on Facebook.

Grandma to be has asked me to be kind . I thought sending a gift for a shower, that I would not be able to attend (as it is 1000 miles away) was kind. We also attended the wedding and provided gifts for that too!

Anyway, I am happy to get the thank you note! That chapter is closed….LOL.


April 22nd, 2014
7:07 am

Nope, following up a gift with passive aggressiveness because a young mom-to-be did not immediately send a note to her husband’s aunt is not kind (no concerns expressed over his manners, though). But it’s been clear the note has been your biggest concern all along, so I’m sure you’re proud of your actions. No doubt she wishes you had never sent the gift to begin with and is eager to wash her hands of you. You are really a piece of work.


April 22nd, 2014
7:20 am

@MJG, I really don’t understand your hang up. I’m totally with HB on this one.

I don’t see how parents of young adults can control this. I went to Freaknik in the early 90’s. We didn’t have any violence. Heck, most people didn’t even know about it. It was the black college kids spring break. It grew to something disgusting by the late 90’s. Middle and high school kids were going. That wasn’t the purpose. All a parent can do is educate their child on safety. My oldest is in college and wouldn’t dare go to such an event. She did go to Orange Crush this past weekend. She spent most of her time shopping with her friends. I told her to go to one party, but that’s really not her thing.


April 22nd, 2014
7:51 am

@RJ – Freaknik 1994 brings back so many good memories! :-) We had just crossed and (sigh)…oh to be 21 again…just for that day. ;-)

I agree that parents can only (and only hopefully and prayerfully) control their kids’ activities at their homes and hope that their parenting has taught the kid what to do and what not to do when not at home. I always say “never say never” but there are some kids that just don’t do the wrong thing, or if they do, they get out of the situation as soon as they realize it is the wrong thing. Partying and drinking may be prevalent but as RJ pointed out about her daughter, every kid is not into that. However, EVERY child needs to be taught the consequences of going to parties with underage drinking and drug use and parties that the parents don’t know about and parties where they don’t know a lot of the people and house parties that have spilled out into the street and parties that have gotten “tense” and….it’s a lot.

Also when a “kid” goes to college, parenting does not stop but you have to understand that the “kid” is going to do what he/she wants to do and it really falls back on what you taught as a parent when they were younger and what they find fun. For me, anyplace I could dance was fun. I some drank too (I was legal in Louisiana and was PO’d that I was not legal in GA.). But when drugs were in the place, I left. Where there were too many strangers, nope, gotta go. Actually I didn’t go anywhere with a lot of my friends. I was shy and anxious about what could happen in a group full of strangers…fighting, drugs, drunken foolery. (I had a too-close-for-comfort experience with a guy who was trying to be a little more “friendly” with me when my friend left me in the room with him by myself – had me pinned to a bed at one point – so I was very wary of strange men. I grabbed a bottle and threatened to break it over his head if he didn’t get off of me so that ended his friendly attention.)

@ HB

April 22nd, 2014
9:28 am

MJG’s attitude and outspokenness towards eroding social skills and manners in society is not the problem. It’s your attitude towards her and calling her out that is an even bigger problem. You supporting bad behavior and giving MJG a tongue lashing is far worse. You are no better than these socially inept and entitled new parents that will raise a an apple that won’t fall far from the family tree.

And Denise, I wouldn’t brag about attending Freaknik. You’ll regret that reveal in future postings.

Parents need to be parents and not friends to their children. A pregnant teen was shot in the head at this party. Wake up parents.


April 22nd, 2014
9:55 am

Lack of parents (or parental guidance) is most likely the biggest problem in this situation. If you saw the pictures from this party, it was pretty clear the types of kids that were attending. I’m sorry, but it seems to be a common occurrence when large groups of these types of people get together. The saddest part is, it didn’t even surprise me to hear that two people were shot. Same sort of thing that happened to Buckhead in the early 2000’s….people started congregating outside of the bars, not patrionizing the businesses and it all went downhill from there. Back in the day, it was all word of mouth but now with everyone having smartphones and facebook, good luck controlling these types of things.


April 22nd, 2014
10:16 am

@ HB – why in the world would Denise regret saying she went to a big iconic crazy 90s party when she was in college? Do we live in the Victorian era?

With regards to thank you notes – if you don’t get one then you drop it and you don’t send them a gift again. If they ever ask then you can say (1) you thought they weren’t receiving the gifts because you never heard back, or (2) you felt your gestures weren’t appreciated so you stopped making them. But, you shouldn’t acknowledge some else’s lack of grace. Just move the F on. Reading about MJG’s efforts to coerce good behavior has turned my stomach.

As for the party – yes, law enforcement needs to join the 21st century. Now more than ever they can easily track the potential for this kind of thing via social media. Back in the 90s it was all word of mouth, perhaps a little texting (towards the end of the 90s). I can definitely see how then the “chatter” about a flashmob party would need to reach a certain critical mass before parents and/or authorities would detect it. But now? That critical mass should be waaay low. Kids growing up with social media have this weird sense that what they communicate that way is not public. Super easy to track.


April 22nd, 2014
10:38 am

I’m with HB and iRun on all accounts. Especially Thankyounotegate.


April 22nd, 2014
10:56 am

Another voice of support on the whole thank you note debacle. Just let it go and never, ever send another gift or reach out to this ungrateful person. No need to send blank thank you notes and do the guilt trip. As someone else said, move on.


April 22nd, 2014
12:05 pm

I think it is funny that the person “unfriended” MJG. How petty!

And yes, adults should send thank you cards immediately! Like, the next day! It does not have to be a thesis, just an acknowledgment that someone did something kind. I always prepared the thank you cards right after I opened the gift (unless it was at a shower, when I waited till the next day at the latest). You know you are going to get gifts with a wedding or a baby–it is no surprise–so be prepared with pen and stamps. Good grief!


April 22nd, 2014
12:06 pm

As to the impromptu party–my kids never had that kind of “freedom.” And I don’t think that is bad.


April 22nd, 2014
12:30 pm

Personally, I don’t find “unfriending” on Facebook to be nearly as petty as complaining to a gift recipient’s mother-in-law about not having received a note within a few days, going on about it for weeks on a public message board, or sending a box of thank you notes. That’s the epitome of pettiness! Yes, people should send thank yous, and I don’t think anyone here is excusing the failure of the parents to do so, but people who don’t receive one should also be big enough to let it go without making such a big freaking deal out of it.


April 22nd, 2014
12:46 pm

Thank you iRun! I am a 41 year old woman and I am not ashamed that I went to a party in the park 20 years ago. (Dang! It was THAT long ago?) Why should I be? I had a ball. There was no violence. I met people. Took lots of pictures (with all of my clothes ON). Had a great time. I wish kids could have the same kind of fun but things are a lot different now. (Oh, heck, now I REALLY sound like an old lady talking about the ‘good old days’.)


April 22nd, 2014
12:53 pm

Considering you can have thousands of “friends” on Facebook (which I am not on personally), I don’t think MJG is wiping away any tears on losing her.

Freaknik was great when it was (somewhat) under control, but this story of 1,500 kids causing this much trouble for the police seems like it was much more out of hand than even the participants thought it could be. Not sure how police plan to “monitor social media in the future.” But whatever works to keep the kids safe seems like a good idea. Probably a good thing that Facebook wasn’t around when Freaknik was.

Sorry, Kat...

April 22nd, 2014
1:47 pm

,…but I do not recall Freaknik ever being “under control” no matter if Denise had her clothes on or not – the headlines made it sound as if most of her cohorts did not, and traffic downtown was at a complete standstill, with far greater numbers of kids than 1500!


April 22nd, 2014
2:10 pm

@ Sorry Kat, you forgot the windows at Rich’s and other establishments being smashed and the designer jeans and so on being stolen by Freaknik people. I certainly stayed OTP back then.


April 22nd, 2014
2:12 pm

HB, the gift recipient was the baby, not the mom and dad. Mom and dad have to step up and do what is right on behalf of their child, or reap the consequences thereof. One consequence is shaming, which isn’t real big in this country any more.

MJG sees the consequences of these types of behaviors, in the global sense, in her work, as I do in mine, EVERY DAY.

yuki–”types of kids?” “These types of people?” What are you saying, sister? Go on, use the word you are dying to say!


April 22nd, 2014
2:29 pm

@Denise – I am 40 and if I’d lived in Atlanta in the 90s I’d've (my new word) gone to Freaknik! I’m melanin-challenged but that’s never stopped me from having fun with my melanin-gifted friends in my whole life. It sounds like a blast. Sure, sounds like it could get kinda crazy and stupid, too. But, then, I grew up in New Orleans and we have this little party every year called Mardi Gras.


April 22nd, 2014
2:33 pm

@catlady – no one disputes the righteousness of the thank you note. Not a single person here is saying thank you notes are too old fashioned or out of style. Politeness is never out of style, of course.

What we’re saying is – if you think it’s a dick move to not write a thank you note then what do you think it is to make a big stink about not writing a thank you note?

When people treat your poorly you dump them. And if they’re family you dump them as much as you can get away with. The end.


April 22nd, 2014
2:45 pm

^^^ yup, what iRun said


April 22nd, 2014
3:07 pm

@catlady, I was trying to be sensitive, politically correct, etc but I think it’s pretty obvious. I’m sorry but that’s just the facts….all you have to do is look at the pictures. If it was a party of the “lighter persuasion” I’d feel the same way, it’s dangerous and the parents should have more control of their kids!

and I’m sure Freaknik back in the day was somewhat controlled, but from what I recall the reason they don’t have it anymore is because of how out of hand it got, from the rowdiness to the traffic. I’m not saying spring break in panama city isn’t rowdy too, but they don’t shut that down now do they?


April 22nd, 2014
3:25 pm

@catlady, your 2:12 comments about me are spot on.

In my professional life, I am teaching people lots of things they might need to know. Luckily, I get paid to do so. It amazes me what kinds of things people have no clue about. Of course, there are some things that I am VERY ignorant about. I would much prefer someone to tell me, so that I can learn. I do not want to be a “duck out of water” so to speak.

Teachers work in a learning environment. We see all sorts of families and work with them too. I do believe that most good teachers want to help people to be the best they can be. We already know that many parents are not passing along skills the do seem imperative to success or even obvious to get along in our world. ( think hygiene, getting homework done, being on time, respecting adults) Manners are on the decline. So we can either say, ” Not my problem.” Or we can step in a land mine and try to fix it. Calling people out, or shaming, is really not PC. Thus most people choose the path of avoiding and not getting involved. That is certainly easier to do! How long before no one has any manners since those that did just let it go?

I laugh when I see people rush up to the airplane gate and get all mad that the agent did not hold the plane for them just a wee bit…they were almost there an NOW THEY MISSED THEIR FLIGHT #$%^&*(. People who are self absorbed.

I read this about TYPE A people today (I am one) :

They don’t understand the concept of not being capable of doing something. To them, if something can physically be done, then why would they not be capable of doing it? If they need to learn something, they will.

They understand that laziness is a choice. Most people talk about laziness as if it was some sort of disease. Type A’s look at such people as idiots. Laziness isn’t more of a disease than is ignorance.

They often become passionate. If they are going to do something, then they are going to do something they believe to be meaningful. If it’s meaningful to them, then it deserves their fullest attention; passion is inevitable.

Manners are meaningful to me. I have been the recipient of some very kind gestures and certainly appreciate a person who has etiquette.

Melanin Rich

April 22nd, 2014
3:58 pm

Oh, Denise “had a ball” at Freaknik, you know she had more than one! The clean lily white fun Denise “had a ball” described is the exact opposite of what really happened!! Legendary parties don’t get shut down because of no violence and clothing options. LOL. Denise, don’t worry sweet child, your children will more than make up for the lack of fun you fantasize about.

@ iRun

April 22nd, 2014
4:05 pm

uRun your mouth a bit too much. To be blunt, ad nauseam is more accurate. Touché hypocrite.


April 22nd, 2014
5:06 pm

@ “@ iRun” – ha, you think you telling me something I don’t know? I’ve been mouthy all my life. In fact, my nickname as a kid was “Mouth”. And guess what? I am totally happy being Mouth. Maybe it’s too much for you…you can’t handle it…it makes you sick to your stomach. But I really don’t care. It’s YOUR problem.

I’d like you to point out where I am being a hypocrite, though.

@ iRun

April 22nd, 2014
6:31 pm

Narcissists are totally happy with themselves, we get that from YOU loud and clear. Narcissists also claim to not care what others think. Hypocrites refuse to see the truth or own their self loathing behavior. This blog is where you have free reign to be a bully with protection and comfort of an anonymous persona.

Silence is golden, duct tape is silver. It’s YOUR problem! ;)


April 22nd, 2014
6:56 pm

Totally agreeing with iRun and HB on this one. And with Catlady on what Yuki is really trying to say. Yuck. These types of mass parties aren’t attended by only one race of kids.

As parents, our job is to teach our children that these types of parties can be dangerous. Then we just pray that they use good judgment.

Reality Check

April 22nd, 2014
8:30 pm

” These types of mass parties aren’t attended by only one race of kids.”

Yes indeed, pregnant teens are shot in the head all the time at mass parties.

We gather you are speaking from experience and would allow your own children to attend these ghetto gatherings

Where is Waldo?

April 22nd, 2014
8:55 pm

Have any of you so-called parents even bothered click on the link to look at these 29 pictures? The AJC thinks they look college aged? These are your kids and your postings support their illegal behavior and entitlement attitude.

Looks can deceive when you have your head in the sand. You will reap what you sow.



April 23rd, 2014
7:48 am

Sorry, but MJG is the most narcissistict person on this blog. First off, she went on and on about not receiving a thank you note, then had the audacity to send that person some thank you notes, then got even madder that one wasn’t sent to her! Really?!?!? Let it go!! there are things you cannot control, but apparently MJG needs to control EVERY aspect of others lives. Yes we know you work with children yes we know you single handedly raised two perfect children, and you have been in all 50 states. Big freaking deal! Get over yourself. I think an extended vacation is desperately needed! By yourself!!

Uh, Melanin Rich......

April 23rd, 2014
9:12 am

…Denise is black, single, has no kids, and is entitled to write whatever she wants to say about her experiences – but, thanks for showing what an idiot you are, or are you really Macy in drag…

mother of 2

April 23rd, 2014
9:31 am

I have older kids, so monitoring their social media accounts isn’t possible for me. But I would definitely monitor accounts for kids in middle – high school. Kids simply don’t realize the fact that the whole world can read a tweet, and their entire network on Facebook can see details about your parties.

Additionally, I think that Thank You Notes aren’t out of date. I continue to remind my older kids to make sure they write them because it’s the right thing to do. If I send a gift to someone and it isn’t acknowledged, I don’t send a gift to that person again. I simply will not waste my valuable time if the receiver can’t jot a simple note of appreciation.


April 23rd, 2014
9:31 am

I am really surprised at how much name calling is going on here.


April 23rd, 2014
10:25 am

Apparently you all think Freaknik started in the ’90s because that’s when you heard about it. Freaknik began in the mid 80s. It was a relatively small gathering of college students. It got out of control because word spread about it. All that happened in the 90s NEVER took place in the 80s. I went to my first event in 89. My husband went in ‘85! No violence, no smashing of store windows, just us college kids having a good time. It can and did happen.

south Georgia

April 23rd, 2014
10:36 am

ThankYouNoteGate is receiving more feedback than the blog topic.


April 23rd, 2014
11:03 am

Wow I see the under cover racists and other meanies found their way to the blog today. I bet Theresa didn’t see that coming. Kids (all races of kids), whether in high school, college and sometimes younger make idiot decisions. As parents all we can do is try our best to guide them into adulthood and hope they don’t set themselves on fire in the process.

29 Pictures

April 23rd, 2014
11:43 am

This was a Black Party. No whites allowed.


April 23rd, 2014
12:35 pm

A black party, no whites invited? Try getting away with a “white party, no blacks allowed” and watch what happens…..

And I’ve been in this town long enough to remember freaknic. The first few years, yea it was mild and kids enjoyed it. But as the years went by, it did get out of control and was banned from this city. When freaknic started in other cities, such as Daytona Beach, it too got out of hand, due to the violence, and has been banned there also.

Social media will be the death Of what is left of a civil society.


April 23rd, 2014
2:00 pm

There was a party a few months ago, don’t remember where (but not in Atlanta) where a Black football star’s house was used as a party place mostly White middle-to-upper class teens. The victim in question posted reposted pictures of the party (the teens had posted them to Twitter) and the kids’ went berserk that this man had the nerve to post pictures of their sweet spawn. The kids were total garbage, breaking items in the house, posting graffiti, and leaving a terrible mess. The man posted that he was hosting a clean-up party and maybe 1 kid showed up with their parents.

So, guess what –kids of all races act like animals at gatherings. I didn’t live here in the 90s but I heard all about Freaknik. While obviously it got out of hand in later years, I think the “element” that caused the issues was that percentage that were not college students. There are a tons of bad things that happen on the beaches in Florida as well from sexual assault to other violence. Keep in mind that in the 1980s-1990s the press went gaga over white-fright stories. Remember the “wilding” in Central Park? Did you know all of those were let go once the real person was caught? Didn’t her much about that on the news did you? 14 and 15 year old kids, interviewed without parents, will admit to things they didn’t do.

On the note scandal, I would agree MJG has blown it out of proportion, and needs to let it go. I also have people who have neglected to send me a note of thanks. I don’t include them going forward – it’s pretty simple.


April 23rd, 2014
3:32 pm

Thanks to whomever corrected Melanin Rich about me. I am indeed black, Melanin Rich, and you are indeed ignorant if you think “lily white” people could not enjoy Freaknik. But whatever! And iRun, I grew up in Baton Rouge, and I think Freaknik has NOTHING on Mardi Gras! :-)

On topic – I don’t think law enforcement has the time or resources to monitor social media. Where would they start? Who would they decided to monitor? Kids? Adults? Teens? How would they decide is “worthy” of scrutiny? It’s nuts to even think it is possible must less to expect it to happen.


April 23rd, 2014
4:31 pm

The idea of a police state scrutinizing social media to find out who is having a party and if it should be “monitored” is more than a bit creepy, to me.