Advice for parents ahead of state exams close

Advice for parents ahead of state exams close

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Ahead of the state exams drawing to a close, Drinkaware is appealing to parents to talk openly and honestly to their children about alcohol and their plans for celebrating this milestone.

Research conducted by Drinkaware found that over half (53%) of parents surveyed believe it is acceptable for their children to drink alcohol at home before the age of 18, while 30% feel this is acceptable to do under the age of 16. Parents are a key source for children to learn about alcohol and have a unique role to play in shaping their attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol. Drinkaware is urging parents to be empowered by this and get involved in their child’s plans ahead of the end of exams celebrations.

Drinkaware has the following advice for parents if their children are celebrating the end of the Junior or Leaving Cert exams:

  • 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?
  • Set rules for the night together: You should both be fully aware of your rules in relation to alcohol – what is the curfew? 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.

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Recent HSE statistics reported that there were more than five times as many teenage admissions to one of the State’s main children’s hospitals due to alcohol use last year compared with 2015. The latest HSBC study found that 51% of sampled 13-17 year olds in Ireland have tried alcohol with one quarter admitting they drank so much alcohol that they were really drunk.

Speaking about upcoming exam celebrations, Ms Niamh Gallagher CEO of Drinkaware said:

“First of all, congratulations to all those students that have completed their exams and best of luck to those who are preparing for their final exams. Naturally students will want to go out and celebrate with their friends - our advice is to take steps to ensure they do so safely and responsibly. Parents should talk to their teens about alcohol and discuss their plans for any end of exam celebrations. At Drinkaware, we are regularly contacted by parents who worry that friends and peers have more influence on when their child will drink but our research shows that all family members, and in particular parents, are the single strongest influence on their child’s opinions about alcohol. We also have a dedicated parent page and booklet, Your Children and Alcohol, which provide support, facts and resources to encourage parents to proactively and confidently start a conversation about alcohol with their children.”

Drinkaware research shows that parents rarely actively seek information about some of the most worrying effects of underage drinking – the link between alcohol and mental health, illegal drug use and sexual health. Only 1 in 10 parents obtains the facts about alcohol and the dangers of underage drinking before talking to their children. Drinkaware supports parents by raising awareness, creating understanding and supporting behaviour change through evidence-led education, particularly in these key areas.

Dr Liam Twomey Chief Medical Officer of Drinkaware noted:

“As a parent, it's important to understand all the facts so that your young people are aware of the risks associated with drinking alcohol from a young age. We should not accept or presume that young people will drink to excess. In my practice, parents are telling me their teens are proactively 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. We are urging parents to talk openly with their children about what their plans are for celebrating the end of their exams. Don’t wait for an incident to happen, use our tips above to start a conversation around alcohol with your child.”