It's almost time for schoolies. Give your teenager the best chance of a safe and happy break.
Issue #85 (13 Nov 2012)

Schoolies: advice for parents

It’s that time of year again, when year 12 school leavers head off to various locations for the annual 'schoolies' celebrations.

For young people who participate in schoolies, it is an important time in their life and acknowledges the end of their schooling and a rite of passage into adulthood.

If you are a parent it may be a worrying time, especially if it is the first time your child will be without direct adult supervision for an extended period.

The Australian Drug Foundation suggests you can help your teenager enjoy schoolies while reducing the risk of problems with a 3-tier strategy:
  1. Be informed
  2. Be the model
  3. Be the voice
Be informed
To help your teenager enjoy the celebrations and reduce the risk of trouble, you need to know where your children are staying, who they are going with, and their plans for activities. It can also help to speak to their friends and find out their plans.

Access to alcohol is a given for young people at schoolies events, but research has found that alcohol can interfere with the development of the brain (which continues until the mid-20s). Practical advice for those attending is to drink as little as possible, never get drunk, and encourage their friends to do the same.

It’s essential for young people to understand alcohol laws. In most states and territories anyone who supplies a minor with alcohol is breaking the law unless they are the child’s parent or guardian, or have their approval, and act in a responsible manner.
Read a fact sheet about supplying alcohol to minors.

Be the model
How you behave and handle situations is a powerful guide for your children. An important strategy is to plan to handle adverse events: ask your children to come up with Plan B and Plan C in the event of a problem. Teenagers will suggest they can call for help on a mobile phone, but what if they lose the phone, or the battery is low? What can they do if someone is hassling them to have a drink, take a ride in a car, or leave their friends?

Be the voice
Research indicates young people drink less when they know their parents prefer them not drinking. If possible, chat to the parents of your teenager’s friends, and try to agree on common expectations. A united front by all parents is useful.

Above all, make sure your teenager knows they can contact you at any time if things go wrong.

Schoolies week is a time of release and celebration for graduating Year 12 students in Australia. It can be a liberating but also a risky time, particularly in the context of exposure to alcohol and other drugs. Preparation and planning by students and their families can help them enjoy it rather than regret it.

Geoff Munro

Head of Policy
Australian Drug Foundation

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Drinking cultures and social occasions

This report looks at alcohol harms in the context of social occasions, focusing on major sporting events. 20002009 data on ambulance attendances, hospital admissions, emergency department presentations, motor vehicle accidents and police data on assaults and family violence was evaluated.

Some key findings from the study include:
  • November and December are the peak months, and Friday and Saturday are the peak days of the week, with the highest concentration of alcohol-related attendances, presentations and admissions.
  • There were significant increases in such cases the day before or the day of major sporting events such as Melbourne Cup Day and the AFL Grand Final for many population segments.
  • There are also increased rates of assaults on and around the day of events like the Melbourne Cup, AFL Grand Final, international cricket matches and, for males, the Formula One Grand Prix.

Full study:  Lloyd B, Matthews S, Livingston M & Jayasekara H 2011 Drinking cultures and social occasions: alcohol harms in the context of major sporting events, Fitzroy: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre

Research summary: Victorian Health Promotion Association 2012 Drinking cultures and social occasions: sporting events: fact sheet, Carlton South: Victorian Health Promotion Association

Download the full study or research summary from VicHealth.

What's news?

Call for blood testing on all drivers injured in accidents
12 November 2012
RACQ has called for changes to legislation to make blood testing compulsory for motorists hospitalised after a car crash.

Parents face booze ban from BWS and Dan Murphy's if suspected of buying alcohol for their kids on schoolies
11 November 2012
Parents will be stopped by security guards outside Queensland's biggest alcohol retailer if it is thought they are buying booze for their children during Schoolies.

Cheap booze sites provoke experts' fury
Sydney Morning Herald
11 November 2012
Public health experts have called for a crackdown on websites that promote ''ridiculously cheap'' alcohol, claiming they fuel Australia's drinking problem and appeal to under-age drinkers.

Drink labels don't deter, study finds
Border Mail
10 November 2012
Alcohol warning labels may increase awareness among adolescents about the dangers of drinking, but are unlikely to curb risky behaviour such as drink-driving and bingeing, Sydney researchers have found.

'Tis the season to be a good host
Australian Drug Foundation media release
8 November 2012
Too often we read of Christmas workplace functions going wrong in the media, on Facebook, blogs and seen through videos appearing on You Tube. Last year, an example was the 34-year-old who drank too much at this office party and fell 25-metres off a balcony. Fortunately, he survived.

ADF to back volumetric taxation on wine
Australian Drug Foundation media release
8 November 2012
The Australian Drug Foundation will support the Australian National Preventative Health Agency's call to the government of imposing volumetric tax on wine.
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