Parents urged to talk about alcohol risk with teens ahead of Junior Cert results

Teenagers need parents to steer them in the right direction, says health expert

Parents are being urged to discuss the risks of drinking with teens ahead of the released of Junior Cert results. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Parents are being urged to discuss the risks of drinking with teens ahead of the released of Junior Cert results. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Parents are being urged to have open conversations with their teens over the risks of drinking alcohol ahead of the release of the Junior Cert results on Friday.

Health authorities have advised that while young people deserve to celebrate their hard work after their exams, it is important for parents to discuss the need to stay safe.

Dr Bobby Smyth, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, said parents were one of the biggest influences on a child’s attitude to alcohol.

“Teenagers need their parents to steer them in the right direction, which means having conversations about the risks and reasons to avoid alcohol,” he said.

“The Junior Cert results night is an opportunity to highlight some of the risks and ways to stay safe. Also, it is so important to let your child know that they can always call you, no matter what. They need to feel they can safely call you if they, or a friend, gets into trouble.”

Research indicates that young people who have conversations with their parents and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are up to 50 per cent less likely to use alcohol than those who don’t have such conversations.

The HSE Alcohol & Drugs, A Parent’s Guide (www.askaboutalcohol.ie/parents) includes practical advice on how to talk to teens about alcohol and other drugs.

Research also indicates that using alcohol or drugs can damage the growing brain during adolescence.

Most advice from the experts is to ensure under-18s do not access alcohol or drugs at all.

The HSE says parents should help their teens to avoid alcohol by setting expectations about celebrating the Junior Cert results alcohol-free.

It says that talking to young people and setting expectations does work and while it doesn’t eliminate risk, it does reduce it.

Teachers’ unions and other educational figures also urged students to celebrate safely and responsibly.

Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, said: “Receiving your results is also a time to celebrate-but it’s important to do so carefully and responsibly.”