Drinkaware are appealing to parents to talk openly and honestly to their children about alcohol ahead of the release of the Junior Cert exam results on Wednesday.
A report commissioned by Drinkaware found that 95% of Junior Cert students learn more about alcohol from their parents than any other source. The Behaviour and Attitudesresearch, conducted with 200 Junior Cert students from across Ireland, revealed that 56% feel that they are limited in their knowledge of alcohol use. 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.
Ms Yvonne Rossiter, interim chief executive officer of 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.
The post-exam celebrations do not have to be synonymous with the now expected reports about drunken teenagers spilling out of underage discos across the country. We simply should not accept that the two go hand in hand. Far from it, 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.”
Ms Betty McLaughlin, president of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors understands the impact stress can have on young people at this critical time. Ms McLaughlin supports this important initiative by Drinkaware, saying, “The Junior Cert results can be a highly stressful and emotional time for students. Talking to a trusted adult like a parent, guardian or guidance counsellor can help to sort through any unexpected feelings about the results. It is important that students marking this milestone, especially those who are concerned with their results, do not use alcohol as a way to blow off steam; drinking to excess can have a serious impact on a young person’s physical and mental health.”
Ms Yvonne Rossiter, interim chief executive officer concluded,”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.”
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.