With the end of exams and High School our teens are looking forward to some relaxation and a lot of partying and we want them to have fun; but not at the expense of their safety, their wellbeing and in some cases even their life can be put in jeopardy.
15,000 or so students are about to hit the Gold Coast to party, dance, drink to levels that may be dangerous to their health and even partake in experimental drug use; and in combination of the environment, their peers and the alcohol and drugs which can produce risk taking behaviours and an array of other associated problems including unsafe and unwanted sex and disinhibited behaviours, we can’t help but worry about our children in such a volatile environment.
We all realise that our teens can make some wrong choices and do some pretty dumb things when they are out and about with their friends.So as parents we have to do what we can to at least make them aware of what can happen if they drink too much and if they take drugs whilst they party.
Here are my 10 tips to keeping your teen safe at schoolies:
1. Know where your teen is going to be: as parents we need to know where our teens are at all times; so have a set of phone numbers and check in times for your child where they can contact you and where you can contact them.
2. Alcohol talk: discuss with your teen the amount of alcohol that is safe for them. 2 drinks max a day will keep them safe. Binge drinking 4 or more drinks for girls or 5-6 drinks for boys in succession will cause them harm; intoxication, brain development retardation and can produce sudden collapse and even death. Tell them to space their drinks out; no more than one an hour and to eat in between and add a glass of water or soft drink in between their drinks.
3. Drink spiking: make your teen aware that they are vulnerable to drink spiking and do not, under any circumstances, accept any drink from anyone including water in a club or even at the beach. Never leave your drinks unattended.
4. Unsafe sex: under the influence of alcohol, drugs or the combination of either: your teen may have unprotected intercourse and may not even know what they are doing. They are predisposed to date rape, sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, venereal warts, HIV)
If you think your teen is going to have sex whilst away, then at least talk to them about safe sex and send them away with condoms. But reinforce a strong message that they should not have sex under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
5. Drugs: your teen may experiment with drugs so it is up to you to have the discussion on drugs with them. You need to make it clear that they can easily die from the drug and its impurities and, YES, their fist time can end up being their last.
6. 10 minutes lost in action Buddy system: tell your teen to hang with their friends and mates (there is safety in numbers) when they are out and about. Have a system in place if one goes missing. A good measure is to have a 10 minute lost in action rule: if anyone is missing for more than ten minutes then they need to contact them and find out where they are and what’s happening.
7. Have enough money to get home: make sure you tell your teen to have enough money, at least $20, to be able to cab it home if they are drinking and not to drive under any circumstances if they are under the influence.
8. Crisis intervention: if things really go wrong then your teen needs to know that it’s ok to get help immediately from the police, and the ambulance as they are there to help them in these circumstances.
9. Open lines of communication: leave the lines of communication open. It’s important to tell your teen that you understand that things may go wrong and that they may get themselves in trouble and things may go down which are beyond their control. If this happens tell them that it’s ok for them to call you immediately at any time of day or night and that you are there to support them and to help them. Tell them that you won’t be angry, disappointed or judge them; you just want them to be safe and in one piece.
10. Have fun and stay safe: as parents we want our children to have fun and to embrace this new period in their lives; but we want them to be safe and return to us in one piece; untouched, alive and vibrant.