Drinkaware are appealing to parents to discuss their exam celebration plans with their children as they collect their Leaving Cert exam results tomorrow. Although 68% of parents surveyed believe alcohol education in schools can help increase the age that young people take their first drink, international and national evidence highlights parents as the key source for young people to learn about alcohol.   

According to independent research commissioned by Drinkaware and carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes, parents are the single strongest influence on young people’s decisions around alcohol. Parents can be unsure how to approach the subject of alcohol use with their teenage children or other parents, particularly at this time when many receiving results tomorrow may already be of legal drinking age. Drinkaware provides support and advice for parents to help start a conversation about alcohol with their children ahead of their exam results celebrations.

Dr Liam Twomey, Chief Medical Officer of Drinkaware said:

“The post-results celebrations do not have to be synonymous with the now expected reports about drunken teenagers spilling out of nightclubs across the country. We simply should not accept that the two go hand in hand. We should not presume that young people will drink to excess. 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. We are appealing to parents to discuss with their children their plans for results night, find out who they will be with, if alcohol will be present and how they plan to get home.”

We have the following advice for parents and guardians about how to have that conversation with their child if they are celebrating their Leaving Cert results:

  • 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.

“The Leaving Cert results can be a highly stressful and emotional time for students. No matter how prepared students are, this can be a confusing time and talking to a trusted adult like a parent or guardian can help. It is important that students marking this achievement, 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. We would encourage parents to get involved in their children’s plans for celebrating this week, especially where alcohol is concerned,” Dr Twomey concluded.