Parents, follow our six-point action plan
With the Junior Cert results set to be released this Wednesday, thousands of young people are planning to mark the achievement. This event can take many forms, from a party with friends to an underage disco at a local venue, but the reality is that in many circumstances alcohol misuse becomes an issue. The fact is that those receiving results are roughly 15 years old and as such, should not be drinking alcohol at any level. As a parent, you are in a unique position to make sure alcohol doesn’t affect your child’s results celebrations.
What’s the harm?
Drinking alcohol from a young age is associated with a wide range of serious negative outcomes, which should not be underestimated.
- The brain continues to develop throughout childhood, adolescence and into young adulthood. If alcohol is introduced at this time it can have an impact on long-term brain function including concentration, memory and learning.
- People who start drinking alcohol at age 15 or below are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence that those who start at age 20 or older.
- Underage alcohol use can result in lower grades, poor school attendance and increases in dropout rates.
- Alcohol can reduce a young person’s physical abilities affecting judgment and co-ordination, which can result in physical harm to the person drinking or others around them.
Download our Your Children and Alcohol booklet
As a parent, what can you do?
Family members, and in particular parents, are the strongest influence on a child’s attitudes towards alcohol. New research shows that in Ireland, Junior Cert students are far more likely to follow their parents’ advice than any other group (which includes their teachers and friends). Be empowered by this, follow our six-point action plan and get involved in your child’s Junior Cert results celebrations.
- Be Proactive: Discuss alcohol and its effects before results night. Don’t wait for an alcohol-related incident to occur.
- Plan alternative Activities: Can you host a party in your house on results night? Would your child prefer to celebrate as a family instead?
- Set Rules together: Find out where the event is happening. Who else will be there? When is the curfew? How will they get home?
- Lead by Example: Not only is it illegal to give alcohol to anyone under the age of alcohol, parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks.
- Take Notice: Talk to the parents of your child’s friends about their plans for results night. Do you know their rules about alcohol?
- Keep Talking: Good communication is the key to building self-esteem and resilience in your child. Talk openly and honestly about your expectations for their behaviour on results night. Ask them how they might feel if alcohol is present at their event.