Parents encouraged to speak to young people about alcohol ahead of Junior Cert results celebrations

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Parents encouraged to speak to young people about alcohol ahead of Junior Cert results celebrations

Underage drinking

Drinkaware are appealing to parents to talk openly and honestly with their children about alcohol ahead of the release of the Junior Cert exam results on Wednesday, 13 September.

A new report commissioned by Drinkaware found that 7 out of 10 parents believe their drinking habits influence their children’s attitudes towards alcohol. The Behaviour and Attitudes[1] research, conducted with 503 parents of children between the ages of 11 and 15 from across Ireland, revealed that only 3 out of 5 parents are confident about talking to their children about alcohol, a decrease on our previous survey from 2015.

It is encouraging to see that more parents are accessing information to start a conversation around alcohol but many parents are still unsure on how to approach the subject of alcohol use with their teenage children or other parents. Drinkaware have developed a comprehensive parents’ hub at drinkaware.ie/parents, with a range of age-appropriate facts, advice and resources to help initiate and guide this important conversation between parents and young people.

Mr Liam Twomey, Chief Medical Officer, Drinkaware said: “These results are a fantastic achievement and of course, should be celebrated. However, we are talking about young people who are about 15 years old. This is simply too young to be drinking alcohol and the harms associated with drinking from such a young age cannot be underestimated. This research highlights a worrying trend among parents with over half believing it is acceptable for their child to drink at home before the age of 18, which is in contrast to a growing evidence base against this practice. Young people are telling us that they are looking for alternatives to alcohol and now it’s time we listened to them and gave them the kind of practical knowledge and advice they can apply to stay safe and be healthy.”

Drinkaware have the following advice for parents and guardians to help ensure the Junior Cert results night is a safe one:

  • Don’t wait for an alcohol-related incident to happen; talk to children early and often.
  • Talk openly about their plans: Who is going? Where is it? How will they get home? Will alcohol be available? When is the curfew?
  • Set rules for the night together: You should both be fully aware of your rules in relation to alcohol. What are the consequences for breaking the rules?
  • Engage with other parents: Talk to the parents of your child’s friends and ensure you are familiar with their rules about alcohol.
  • Safety is key: Remind your child that they can call or text you if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point during the night.
  • Provide an alternative to a night out: Could you host a party in your home? If so, remember that it is illegal to serve alcohol to minors and parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks.

Ms Niamh Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer of Drinkaware said: “We receive countless phone calls and emails from parents who are unsure of how to approach the subject of alcohol with their teenagers, particularly leading up to exam results time. They often worry that friends have more influence on if or when their child will drink alcohol, but this just isn’t the case. Family members, in particular parents, are the single strongest influence on young people’s attitudes towards alcohol. Parents should be empowered by this and get involved in their child’s plans for results night celebrations. Now is the time to have that all-important conversation about alcohol.”

For more information on alcohol and young people, visit drinkaware.ie/parents or email info@drinkaware.ie to order a copy of the Your Children and Alcohol booklet.