We have struggled with sleepovers...do we allow them? If so, what age? With whom? How late are they allowed to stay on Sat.? Will they be safe? If you say yes to one, how can you say no to another with out offending? etc., etc. It is also hard when is seems "everyone else is doing it" and your kids are begging you for it. Plus they can be a lot of fun.
The decision is also hard because so many children are sexually abused at sleepovers. Our neighbor worked at a place for sexually abused children and said there is NO WAY she will ever let her child do a sleepover. She said most children are sexually abused by friends, relatives, or friends of those groups. Another friend said that in his religious area 1 in 3 kids were being sexually abused at sleepovers. SCARY!!
So what have we decided to do instead? Stay Lates. Our kids are allowed to stay at a friends house later than usual - even later than the normal bedtime. We pick them up around 9:30-10:00 pm. This gives them enough time to watch a movie and goof around. It also eliminates the who do you say yes and no to?
Is it awkward to have this rule? Yes, sometimes. But I would much rather have some awkwardness than my child hurt in that way. For now this seems to be working well and the kiddos like it. Who knows, maybe we'll start a new trend.